October 1, 2016 – From Sr. Mary Pat Cook

October 1, 2016 | Posted in For Contemplation

During a workshop I attended last spring, Carol Zinn, SSJ drew laughter from the group when she spoke of her effort to watch and listen to the presidential candidate debates from a contemplative stance. She acknowledged that she found it a challenge. In these recent weeks, her words have resurfaced as an invitation to try to look lovingly at the reality that is our political environment in these pre-election days. Regardless of who one’s preferred candidate is, it is easy to join the chorus of ridicule, sarcasm, disrespect. Recently LCWR (the Leadership Conference of Women Religious) sent a letter to each of the four U.S. presidential candidates asking them “to engage in political dialogue that reflects the principles and values upon which this nation was founded.” Almost 6,000 sisters signed this call for “civility in our discourse and decency in our political interaction that promotes the common good, reaches out to others, engages in constructive dialogue, and seeks together the way forward.” As I reflected on Carol Zinn’s experience and the LCWR letter, I began to question my own rhetoric. Am I contributing to the violence of the dialogue? How do I engage these days with a contemplative stance? Am I willing to step back, to listen deeply … without judgment … in a spirit of openness and curiosity … to hold each person in love. Am I willing to look deeper for a truth that may surprise me – and to share what I see recognizing it as part of a bigger whole? In her address to the LCWR Assembly this past August, Pat Farrell, OSF reminded us that “The deep quiet of contemplation can bring us face to face with our own negativity and resistance, which when not rejected, avoided or denied can be privileged places of encounter with the Holy One. It can be transforming to simply be present without judgment to what feels far from anything wholesome or holy.” The LCWR letter closes with an invitation to each of us as citizens and people of the Gospel: “Let us engage in careful listening and honest questioning. Let us honor the dignity of those with whom we disagree and treat them with the respect that is their God-given right.”

LCWR Letter

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