Saturday, June 21, 2008

Christ's Initiative Among Us

I was about to get cracking on the standing challenges here, when Fred posted a follow-up. That brief conversation we had at the Exercises about this forum was so provocative for me, because immediately Fred thought in terms of a question instead of a topic.

When we first started thinking about a common blog, some time ago, I think I imagined an online magazine, with a common theme or just individual opinion pieces with a CL flavor. And when the blog foundered (completely for some time, and then sporadically since we revived it), I thought we just needed to somehow rededicate to the idea. Fred's point turned this assumption inside out.

And then there has been the surprising friendship that has bloomed in a seemingly inhospitable place, the electronic wasteland. The breakfast with Alex and Suzanne at diakonia. That hour I spent with Karen and Fred on the way home from the aerospace competition in Kansas. Since then, many times a post by one of you has been the thing I needed badly as a judgment for my life, without you knowing that I needed that. In fact, the unity is a gift and a fact; there are times when advice is helpful or it isn't, but a life proposed is something renewed for every day.

Topics tend to be about ideas. What we're invited to is reality. As Suzanne wrote,
Now I recognize that Fred's original invitation (before he appealed to me personally) was to the same adventure, exactly the same one; but in the first case, I was too distracted to recognize the invitation. The greatest knowledge that I gained from my adventure in Brazil, was the recognition that any invitations posted here are for my life.
I started taking pictures as a way to enhance my blog; instead, reality is insistent. I look and learn from the pictures. I'm interested not in being a professional Catholic or a specialized cielini, but in living my life fully. The protagonist in Notes from the Underground says scornfully: "Soon we shall invent a method of being born from an idea." I have had some extended arguments over the question of media being relational. But after this week of testimonies about the life of Tim Russert, on and off the air, we see it's true that every situation can be lived humanly. Also, while this medium values opinions, we learn to value unity. I was very struck by the way the Holy Father met President Bush, respectfully as a person, beyond all political concerns. By all reports, they had a very cordial ("of or for the heart") meeting. Often what happens online is a slashing of human experience into categories and manifestos. What is happening with us is something human--that's why it helps me.

I'm glad Fred continues to ask about gestures. Because we're human, we have to have such structures. We need to have a time to stop everything and have the evening meal with family. We have to show up for work at a particular time and place, whatever form that takes. Something I love about the movement (well lots of things, but this is one) is the way getting together is never about solving problems but recognizes a fact. From the bottom up, there is always something objective proposed. For our regional diakonia, we read something to prepare and then talk about it before we delve into the practical issues of organizing initiatives.

I would suggest as a simple gesture that we take a text to read together and discuss. Personally I prefer weekly because any longer and it's hard to commit; better accompanied with a question left open for some days, perhaps again a week. We don't need a School of Community online. It could be something interesting that we could grapple with and judge together. It may work better (as we do in fraternity, SoC, diakonia) to have one person lead for a time, and change later, rather than change weekly. Just some ideas. As Fred points out, the gesture makes us more available for what actually happens, the Event among us.

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