By: Sister Sharon Havelak, OSF
Sometimes it’s easy to get overwhelmed. ISIS is making gruesome headlines once again. Indicators of growing climate changes are more and more evident. Ebola has slipped from the headlines, but the suffering still continues. Our governor is planning to raise the sales tax and lower taxes for the wealthy. And just for good measure, it’s snowing again, on top of the 12” we had the other day. What’s a peace activist to do?
The problems are never-ending and the “to-do” list is lengthy, but the real answer, at least if one is interested in keeping things in perspective, is surprising. Two quick stories illustrate.
The first is an old story from the 1980s. It tells of a young volunteer coming into a Latin American village, ready to help them in their cause. He arrives to find them, not in organizing and resisting, but singing and dancing. Shocked, he asks what’s going on. The villagers reply, “We’re in this for the long haul; we need to celebrate.”
The second story tells of a discussion between a social activist and his protagonist about the difference between a Christian social activist and one who is a humanitarian. Both speak of commitment, values, faithfulness to the cause, courage and other ideals. Finally, the social activist was able to win the argument when he noted that the Christian will always have a better sense of humor.
I was reminded of these stories this past weekend, while attending a 50th anniversary celebration of the ordination of a priest friend. It was a great celebration: wonderful liturgy with fabulous music and liturgical dance, a potluck meal, family and friends, stories and laughter, all in a beautiful old inner-city church. The image I want to remember is the man himself.
My friend started the liturgy, laughing, “There will be mistakes.” There were, but he, and everyone attending, took them in stride. With the same self-deprecating humor and humility, in his homily he talked about his successes – in inner city schools and parishes – and his struggles. His passion for education, for the poor, especially the young, and for the inner-city was evident.
Like my friend, may we gather around us those with like vision and work together toward our goals. May we gather friends around us to celebrate our accomplishments, large and small. May we work faithfully, passionately, courageously, and steadfastly for the good of our suffering sisters and brothers.
And may we not take ourselves too seriously. Because, in the long run, being ourselves, being human, accepting our strengths and weaknesses and working with what we have, and then laughing in the face of the delights and absurdities that life throws at us, is what will save us.
I think that’s what Jesus meant when he said that he came so we might live.