I think I'm going to give up listening to presidential hopefuls this Lent. So much disgust rises within me as I listen to their attacks on one another and on the rest of us. Our political process has become an immature, prideful game, and this saddens me. I want to participate in democracy, but I want to get rid of these clowns that make a mockery of our nation and the core values we stand for.
I think I'm also going to give up listening to scared people. Some people just cannot help it -- they are scared or anxious or worried, but at least they do not impose their fears onto others. So, let me be specific: I want to stop listening to those who are scared and want to control their situation but when they cannot, they instead try to micromanage the people around them.
One more: I think I want to give up the time I spend talking and naysaying the abovementioned kinds of people.
What I want this Lent is to be able to act decisively, think clearly, and spend more time aligning my heart to God's heart.
I look to my favorite model for resilience and simplicity, St. Bernadette. Born in Lourdes, France in 1844, Bernadette is remembered as having seen the Virgin Mary at least 18 times. She was gifted with the grace of Our Lady's presence and faithful enough to humbly follow her invitations to be in relationship and help to uncover God's unending desire to love, heal, and live with us.
Bernadette was just a teenager that most adults did not believe. In fact, authorities had a difficult time imagining God's big-ness because they could not fathom a moment when their God would speak to this lowly child and not themselves. Yet, she stood her ground and spoke simply, succinctly, clearly about the miracle of Our Lady making herself known to her.
I think of my students this Lent. How do they teach me to think beyond what I know? How do they lead me to a greater depth of understanding the mystery of God? How does their truth cut to the core of my faith and help me re-understand and re-figure the God I have come to know, trust, follow, and believe in?
My students do not have all the answers, but they do have their own mystical experiences. God will find them and use them to bring about our kin-dom of love and justice.
I witnessed this very moment just a few weeks ago. Our new student club, Solidarity not Solitary, hosted our first-ever Bay Area Social Justice Teach-In. This was not a mandatory event. Not every student earned credit for coming on Saturday.
Students came because they needed a space to share ideas, concerns, and desires for the world that they live in. They invited our local Assemblyman Rob Bonta to open the day his own story of how and why he works for justice. The students hosted, facilitated and collaborated on six different workshops that covered real issues of prison reform, humane migration reform, and racism.
They met Michelle Clark and Kimberly Bryant, two active women in our community that continue to make this world better not only for marginalized youth, but for the entire world.
That day renewed my faith. Being in constant conversation with these teenagers has reinvigorated my everyday. I can trust that this next generation will speak their truth, and more importantly act on their truth in a system that's broken.
I just wish they were competing in the race to lead our nation. Until then, I offer this prayer as we align our desires to the desires of God.
Gracious and merciful God,
Continue to enter into our chaos.
Speak so clearly that your whisper cuts through the shenanigans of our superficially charged modern culture.
Give us the courage, the grace, and your blessing to be able to reflect the deep mystery that is You.
Help us today, prune away the obstacles that limit our growth in living a life that chooses you and chooses Your people.
We ask all this in Your son's name. Amen.
[Jocelyn A. Sideco is a retreat leader, spiritual director and innovative minister who specializes in mission-centered ministry. She teaches bioethics, feminist theology, Christian sexuality, and Christian Scriptures at Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland, Calif. Visit her online ecumenical ministry, In Good Company, at contemplativecompanions.org. Her email address is email@example.com.]
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