That’s a question I ask myself a lot these days.
It’s a question that appears at the end of every newsletter that I receive from Fr. Richard Rohr at the Center for Action and Contemplation.
Action. And contemplation.
There’s a time for both. The question is: What is mine to do?
I know a lot more about what is probably NOT mine to do. It’s probably not mine to march in the streets. I am getting to the age where pandemics and crowds are a bad mix for me. Younger people are much better at those things.
It’s probably also not mine to tell you what to think. You have your own ears and eyes and soul. It’s your work to worry about what you think.
But what is mine to do?
It is mine to listen. It is mine to raise my son to listen, to have empathy, to use his critical thinking skills. It is mine to contemplate. I have had many, many days of action. And my time of action will come again. But I can support and raise people up. I can stand with those who are oppressed, even if I have to do it from my house. From my perspective of privilege I can appreciate when it might be time to shut my mouth and listen…listen to the voices of those not like me.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. –MLK
Those words were as true then as they are now, maybe even more profoundly right now.
Last year I started working on a red, white and blue quilt. It is a patchwork of many, many pieces of different fabric in every shade of red, white and blue that I could find. I once had a friend ask: Why would someone want to cut up perfectly good fabric? As quilters we know why. One piece of fabric may be strong and singular and dominant.
But a quilt made with many colors, blended together and working in harmony is a much more perfect…union. And the painful thing is that the fabric must be cut, and things get ugly and a lot of hard work must be done before anything even resembling coherence starts to emerge.
But it does emerge when we do the work. And you can follow a pattern or freestyle it. But when it’s all sewn back together as one piece of cloth, it’s special. It’s better than the sum of a bunch of single fabrics. It’s triumphant. And participating in that?
That might be mine to do.