An Opportune Time to Pause, Reflect, and Move Forward
The passing of a year is an opportune time to reflect on the many splendid things that have come our way and to be thankful for all the wonder that’s bestowed upon us. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel also reminds us of the work yet to be done:
“It became clear to me that in regard to cruelties committed in the name of a free society, some are guilty while all are responsible.”
And so, as we kick off 2016, let us assume the mantle, pause for a moment, humbly bow, and take stock of our responsibilities as old and new challenges face us.
That’s what Parker Palmer, our Wednesday columnist, asks us to do. A serendipitous typo inspires him to come up with a list of five “revolutions” for the New Year, resolutions to counteract grim realities in order to regain our humanity in 2016:
“Revolutions that succeed are always for something rather than merely against this or that. But if we’re serious about what we’re for, we need to name what we’re willing to stand openly against.”
And, in “The End of Arrogance Is Needed,” Mohammed Fairouz stands up and does just that:
“There is an ancient saying among the tribes of the Arabian Desert: you will know that someone truly cares about you when they tell you what you need to hear rather than what you want to hear. And so this article is written in that spirit of care and respect.”
His latest column for our Public Theology Reimagined initiative touches an impulse stirring within so many today, especially as the political rhetoric of making America great again points at the decline of not only U.S. power, but the erosion of trust among its allies and its own citizens.
But Fr. James Krueger saw signs of hope and the building of a renewed trust amidst the violent protests that rocked the capital city of Ukraine last year. Inspired by the sincerity of the clergy’s presence on the front lines, the Anglican priest reflects on how we bridge the gap between contemplative practice and contemplative action:
“Without first learning to retreat, one’s advancing becomes chaotic, confused, and contentious. Without knowing how to advance, one’s spiritual life becomes flimsy, sentimental, and tiresome. In contemplation, there must be decisive, prophetic action; in action, there must be openness, recollection, and prayer.”
“This love of wide open spaces moves us beyond the ethics of caretaking and custodianship. It is a reminder that we as human beings are part and parcel of the fabric of the natural cosmos.”
Untamed, wild beauty kindles a yearning and an awe that few man-made structures can, even with the most sacred churches, mosques, or temples. Our resident bard Omid Safi with a praise song for the wide open spaces that beckon us to open our hearts to all people and all things before us.
“Is it any wonder that our families are conflicted? They are the ‘places’ where we do all of the hard, meaningful stuff in life.”
There is no norm when it comes to the prototypical family unit. And, family, as we all know, is at once our breaking point and our healing refuge. With the holiday season behind us, Courtney Martin asks us to embrace the family we have and resist the idealized version that never existed.
I’d like to go out with some music. If you haven’t seen it yet, Aretha’s inspired performance is not to be missed. And how about this gracious gift from the band Radiohead:
“Last year we were asked to write a theme tune for the Bond movie “Spectre.” Yes we were. It didn’t work out, but became something of our own, which we love very much. As the year closes we thought you might like to hear it. May the force be with you.”
Their message — and their song — seems like the right thing to hear on these first days of 2016.
May you have a wonderful new year. As always, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via Twitter at @trentgilliss.
May the wind always be at your back.