Hope, Power, and Kindness in 2023

Dear Friends, I hope you all had a peace-filled, enjoyable holiday season.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know that I have been looking for Hope for the last few years. The hate, the racism, lack of civility, divisions have been painful. And the protracted and contentious process for electing the current Speaker of the House did not infuse me with much encouragement.

However, my optimism gene keeps me going. 

I want to share three Hope-filled moments that touched me and accompanies me as I walk into and through 2023.

One: In mid-December 2022, I listened to a woman homilist reflect on “the restorative power of kindness.” I have sat with that phrase for a long time; “the restorative Power of Kindness.” We can bring Kindness back to our world. Each of us is a player.

Glancing back at the debacle of selecting the current Speaker of the House, it is so much about power. Everyone wants power and no one wants to share or compromise on power. It is indeed a false god. Whereas the power of the Spirit that lies in each of us has so much potential. The power/empowering gifts of Kindness, of patience, of understanding, of forgiving. We are the people who have the Power, if only we are brave enough to claim it.

Two: A few weeks ago, I was invited to attend a gathering of mostly younger women, a sprinkling of men, and a handful of us seniors. The focus of the gathering was to learn more about the evolving movement known as “Discerning Deacons.” It is an international movement of women who believe very strongly that as the Church calls for a broader experience of synodality among all of us, women must speak up and speak out to claim our charism to ordained diaconate ministry. Despite all my issues with the institutional Church, why did I leave the gathering filled with Hope and a sense of communal, shared Power to move this specific call to ordained diaconate forward? The three women who came to St. Louis to share their vision and dreams spoke with passion, clarity, and direction. They did not waste time griping and complaining and male-bashing (so tempting!). There was no mention of the existing divisions among us in the Church – didn’t waste time or energy on that. They have embraced what they have discerned to be their/our call, to move the vocation of women deacons front and center. I drove home realizing I had just experienced Hope, Power, and Kindness in mid-town St. Louis.

Three: The other evening, Jerry and I attended an author talk hosted by the St. Louis County Library Foundation. It was held at what we locals refer to as the “J” – The Jewish Community Center. The author was Brad Meltzer, a Jewish author of thrillers, historical fiction, and children’s books. His most recent, just-out book, “The Nazi Conspiracy,” tells the story of how an assassination plot on FDR, Winston Churchill, and Josef Stalin was foiled when they gathered in Tehran, Iran in 1943. Meltzer is an accomplished author and an excellent, engaging speaker. He spoke about his most recent published book, but he also spent time sharing his concerns about the current divisions, especially in our country and in our world; the despot like Putin, so like Hitler, driven by a need for power, who feeds on peoples’ vulnerability and ignorance; leaders who define and identify “those people” that we are supposed to loathe and disdain. Meltzer’s comment, “enough is enough” received a standing ovation from the 300 or more in attendance. Meltzer’s message was not so much to buy his book as much as to leave the gathering aware of our own potential/power to stop the madness that is at risk of taking over our country and our world.

Jerry and I left the event feeling inspired. Among the 300 or more people gathered there was a diverse mix of ages, gender, belief systems, personal backgrounds, political leanings. As we all politely filed out of the Center and into the parking lot, the sense of having heard the message was palpable. Once again, I experienced the comfort of sharing a common vision of who we are called to be and can be if we claim our own power, rooted in kindness and hope.

I would encourage each of you to discover your own sources of Hope, Power, and Kindness.


PS: Meltzer’s Children’s series, “Ordinary People Change the World,” is quite good. If you know young ones between 3 and 9 you may want to check them out. The most recent is, “I am John Lewis.” A lot of woman notables too. 

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