During the Advent and Christmas seasons I have been reflecting on the images of light and darkness. There are many people and places in our world longing for the Light of the World to be born in them. In recent weeks the news has been filled with reports of war, possible genocide, terrorist attacks, poverty, climate crisis, racism, and systemic injustice. When my focus remains on these things it is easy to be overwhelmed with feelings of powerlessness and to feel encased by the darkness.
I am encouraged by the words of Clarissa Pinkola Estes written in “Letter to a Young Activist in Troubled Times”: Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.
I am grateful for religious life and a sisterhood of amazing women who have dedicated their lives to responding to those who are suffering. This year Giving Voice has been given an opportunity to support sisters in this great work through a generous grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation (CNHF) Catholic Sister Initiative (CSI). Key initiatives are in the areas of leadership development, communication, network expansion, cultural diversity, organizational sustainability, and creative visioning. Consultants from Plante Moran attended the August 2015 National Gathering and held a series of conference calls this fall to gather input and ideas from a diverse representation of Giving Voice members. We stand on the cusp of so many possibilities. Yet, as we know from the work of many of our own communities, in a process like this there is only enough light for one step at a time. The Core Team will continue to rely on your prayers, energy, and insights to guide this work. Stay tuned as we await the next steps to be illuminated.
Again the words of Clarissa Pinkola Estes speak to me as I think of the enlightened and fiery sisters in the Giving Voice network that I’ve gotten to know in person and online: One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these - to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it.
I have found Giving Voice to be a space where we can show our soul and catch sparks from each other. Our own fire is enlarged and together we can more fully live the mission of sharing the Light and Love of God with those who need it most. This journey is not an easy one. On the days when the path seems hidden in the mist, I find Clarissa Pinkola Estes words to calling us, “Do not lose heart. We were made for these times.”