i've been thinking a lot about words lately. my lenten resolution is to reinstate words to an important place in my daily life, through reading or writing them. i wanted to particularly focus on reading prayers and spiritual writing, and though i haven't made this a daily practice i am enjoying thinking more about prayers. here is one i read recently that has stayed with me:
jesus, you are the way through the wilderness: show us your truth in which we journey, and by the grace of the holy spirit be in us the life that draws us to god. amen.
it's hard not to think about the importance of words as the political races continue. i heard recently that hillary clinton is critiquing barack obama for his fancy oratory, which she says is nice but not realistic. her speeches, on the other hand, are down-to-earth and get-to-the-point, without flowery idealism. while i appreciate her pragmatism, her words do not inspire me. and isn't that the main purpose of a political leader? to inspire the people, to give them the leadership and the energy to come together to make their country great? words are a huge part of that process of being moved. i want to listen, to let the energy and power of great words roll over me, make my heart beat and my blood flow, make me more alive.
aaron, maryka and i recently saw cornell west speak here in bellingham. talk about inspiring words! he is really a modern-day prophet. he spoke about black history, redefining it to focus not on blacks in america as victims, but rather as prophets, as creators, as peace-makers, people of god. he said that in response to the wrongs done them, black people could easily have chosen to respond with terrorism. instead they responded with non-violent political action, with jazz and blues, with poems and novels and art and gospel music. black history in america is full of stories of people turning hatred into love, despair into hope.
here he is, talking about hope in an interview you can read here.
Cornel West: You have to draw a distinction between hope and optimism. Vaclav Havel put it well when he said "optimism" is the belief that things are going to turn out as you would like, as opposed to "hope," which is when you are thoroughly convinced something is moral and right and just and therefore you fight regardless of the consequences. In that sense, I'm full of hope but in no way optimistic.
Q: What is it that underpins your hope? What is it that makes you carry on, regardless?
West: People who are still out there, fighting against the darkness and thunder. For me, that's a form of bearing witness, and, of course, intellectuals try to reflect critically on the witness that they bear. There are always hundreds and hundreds, thousands and thousands, millions and millions of folk around the world who are cutting against the grain. That's the kind of movement and motion that we hope, somewhere down the line, will lead to the higher-level organizing and mobilizing necessary to transform these societies that are shot through with so many institutional forms of evil.
one more word: trust. our church is in the middle of a split, and we were recently visited by our diocesan bishop, who answered parishioners' questions on the future of our parish, the wider episcopal church, and on his own beliefs. he didn't give any simple answers to the complicated issues at hand. he did say that he finds it helpful to focus less on figuring out clear answers to all the complications within the system of christianity, and to focus more on trusting the god that the system is all about.
i like that.