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I work as a teacher, poet and spiritual director at a number of institutions in the DC area. My teaching focuses in various ways on writing, poetry, Spirituality and Christian vocation and ministry - especially from the point of view of the laity. I also offer classes and retreats encouraging people to explore their inner lives, engage their creativity and reflect on their beliefs about God, vocation, and how we can discern and pursue new ways to transform our broken world. I enjoy speaking of faith in the secular academy as well as reminding those preparing for ministry in the Church that our primary purpose is to love and serve the world beyond the church's doors. I love helping people to grow in faith and to find their own voices, and I also love encouraging them to use their minds. I see no contradiction between these impulses, believing as I do that faith, reason and creativity work together.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

"Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts."

Thanks to my friend Peter Carey reminding me of this quote (From Wendell Berry's poem, Manifesto: the Mad Farmer Liberation Front, and for his sermon on the prophet Habakkuk posted on his blog. It helps me with the call to engage where we can in the work of reconciliation, in living the "dream of God," as Verna Dozier has called it. I especially like Peter's conclusion: So be joyful, even though you have considered all the facts. And be hopeful, even though hopelessness may surround you. I definitely resonate with that approach to life, and the poem, too, coming from Romero, reminds me that this view of life does not represent a philosophy of disengagement, but of faithfulness.

Here it is: one of those poems that leads us into prayer:

A Future Not Our Own

It helps, now and then, to step back
And take the long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
It is beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of
The magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete,
Which is another way of saying
The kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about:
We plant seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything
and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for God's grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders,
ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

3 comments:

  1. Kathy,

    thanks for the shout-out! one thing, however, is that the last line is actually not in Romero's poem, but was in my sermon that I preached on Habakkuk...the line about 'having joy though you have considered the facts' is actually from Wendell berry, and the last line is a paraphrase of William Sloane Coffin, Jr.'s notion about hope (that I talked about in the sermon...)...

    Thanks!

    Peter

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  2. Whoops! This is where my scholarly self gets embarassed in the blogosphere. Can you give me a link to the actual poem so I can correct this the right way? Then I'll probably revise the blogpost because that's just what I do. . . .

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  3. yea, let me find the poem online...sorry about that!

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