Keep the Renewable Resource Callings Going

candles
Image Description: Tea light candles arranged in an S pattern.

Have you felt depleted lately?

I’ve had some moments like that over the last few months. Fortunately, it’s just been a few days here and there rather than a sustained season, but when those days have come, they have really come. Meanwhile, I know that some among us carry a sense of depletion that feels more sustained, and there are deep longings for greater energy. Wherever we find ourselves, I’d say, what is. . . simply is. No judgment, and we can give ourselves a lot of grace.

I especially ponder this when I consider all the movement work that is happening within us and around us. As we know quite well, there’s always more to do than any one of us can do alone. The size of it all can feel pretty daunting. Fortunately, we do actually have each other, and we bring different pieces to the work.

In the midst of that, this is pretty crucial: We need to keep the renewable resource callings going.

What I mean is that we all have callings — tasks, endeavors, activities, visions, and rhythms — that uniquely energize us even as we give them energy. As much as we give them energy, we receive energy back. They’re like renewable resources for us.

With so much need, we might forget to prioritize them. We might sacrifice them because we sacrifice our own self-care. But we need self-care. And. . . at the very same time, we should never underestimate how helpful these renewable resource callings can be to our movements and communities. They come so naturally and fill us so much that they might not seem like work. But they would be taxing work to someone else. It’s helpful to keep these callings precisely at the core of our work because they are uniquely alive in us.

And our movements and communities absolutely need our aliveness.

Sometimes, we have to do what we have to do, and that includes tasks that drain us. Some even add risk to us. But there are renewable resource callings too. They enrich us and our communities.

What are yours?

Renee Roederer

Finding the Intersection of Calling

Image Description: A busy street intersection with crosswalks, street lights, buildings, and pedestrians.

I find Frederick Buechner to be an especially quotable author. He just has so many good things to say, and over the years, I’ve passed on a lot of his words to people. In particular, I’ve shared this quote with a lot of college students who are doing vocational discernment:

The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Whatever our age, we’re continually discerning these things all the time. Perhaps this framing is particularly important in this moment we’re living — this consideration of where deep gladness and deep need meet.

The needs and injustices around us are enormous, and we may be grappling with seeing them in new ways, or even for the first time. Immigration… Hunger… Police brutality… Voter suppression… Environmental devastation… Late-stage capitalism… Racism… Sexism… Transphobia… And throughout this year, COVID-19…

This is a good time to ask questions like,

What is my best skill, gift, or calling?
How am I using that for a sense of the common good?
How might I do that?

We need everyone using their best skills, gifts, and callings in the direction of these large, systemic challenges.

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Where might that intersection be for you?
What could it look like in practice?
Is there anything we need to clear out of the way to actually do it?

Renee Roederer

This quote from Frederick Buechner comes originally from his book Wishful Thinking.

Super Bloom

We are soon (relatively) going to emerge from a very traumatic, collective experience. As we do this, there will likely be new waves of grief for what we’ve experienced, what we’ve lost, or what we’ve missed out on.

All of this is real, and we certainly don’t need to snap our fingers and be back to it.

But as we do this, I also wonder what might surprise us.

Death Valley, a desert in California, gets its name for obvious reasons. It’s rare for much to grow there. Most of the time, it’s just not habitable.

But every once in a while when the conditions shift, seeds sprout all over the place. Often, people didn’t even know these seeds were there… And Death Valley experiences a surprising phenomenon called a Super Bloom.

We certainly place hope in actualities we can count on. Thank goodness we can name and trust some of those. It takes courage, perhaps, to place hope in the possibilities we cannot fully anticipate. Yet often, life is found right there.

Even in the driest of conditions, some of those possibilities can begin to form –

When people discover new visions for their communities,
When voices long-silenced rise into leadership,
When we discover the gift and grace of unanticipated abundance,
When Love becomes the foundation of resilience and liberation . . .

Yes, a Super Bloom.

May it be with us.

 Renee Roederer

St. Fred

Image Description: A black and white photo of Fred Rogers, smiling.

If I could choose a person to be my personal patron saint or even an additional Grandpa, I would likely choose Fred Rogers. I admire him so much – not only for his tremendous work but for his way of being in the world.

A few years ago, I ran across a testimony that demonstrated how crucial and life-saving his work truly was. It involved a continual commitment to remind vulnerable people how special and valuable they were. He changed the lives of children, including children who were abused at home. This testimony said,

“. . . he seemed to look me in the eye when he said, ‘And I like you just for being you’. In that moment, it was like he was reaching across time and space to say these words to me when I needed them most. . .  I was sure I deserved every last moment of abuse, every blow, every bad name. I was sure I earned it, sure I didn’t deserve better. I knew all of these things … until that moment. If this man, who I hadn’t even met, liked me just for being me, then I couldn’t be all bad. Then maybe someone could love me, even if it wasn’t my mom.”

We need a renewed commitment to uplift the intrinsic worth and value in human beings. We need this in the wake of hatred, poverty, racism, exclusion, violence, abuse, and more. . . These forces are intense and entrenched among us. They require us to speak truth to power, so I don’t mean to be reductionistic or say that a simple declaration of worth is all that it takes. But it’s never not about that.

It’s a life-giving, foundational truth, that —

despite the pain we know,
despite the pain we cause,

despite the harsh words we hear,
despite the harsh labels we believe,

despite the forces which declare some to be ‘less than,’
despite the despair which internalizes the same,

we are loved with a Love we cannot lose.

And that Love says that we are worth it.

Renee Roederer

Living Alternatives

No photo description available.
Image Description: In white writing, a wooden sign reads, “Alternative Route,” with an arrow.

I know in many ways this is so obvious, but it’s on my mind and heart lately, especially as we emerge gradually out of this pandemic. . .

If we want to create alternatives to much of what we stand against –

Alternatives to consistent disregard for the environment,

Alternatives to endless greed and predatory capitalism,

Alternatives to structures solidified by racism and white supremacy,

Alternatives to empire upheld through continual war,

Alternatives to a host of societal wrongs. . .

If we want these alternatives, we have to start living them in community in the present. We can live these commitments in relationship.

Without question, to bring about these alternatives fully, we have to deconstruct and dismantle the destructive realities that are harming human lives and our planet. That is large, sweeping work on all levels.

But we also have to build something different. Even on a small scale, we can model something different, allowing and encouraging these alternatives to take hold and grow.

Like I said, this is extremely obvious, not a novel idea. And people are already working to live this way. Some people I know, in fact.

We need communities around these alternatives now, not only so they can take root for the future, which is of course true, but because we need hope and a fuller sense of aliveness right now. Some have been losing heart and hope for a long time.

Our alternatives cannot exist solely in a far off, distant future we’ll never see, though I certainly hope that timescale does matter to us. We are definitely working for the future. But in addition to that, we can work for the present. We can start living these values right now. How else are we going to get to where we want to go?

We can live more fully with one another right now.

– Renee Roederer

We Learn to Love By Witnessing Love

Blue Like Jazz: Non-Religious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality: Donald  Miller: 9780785263708 - Christianbook.com
The book cover of Blue Like Jazz.

Blue Like Jazz is a book by Donald Miller.  The subtitle is “Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality.”  The book opens with the author’s note:

“I never liked jazz music because jazz music doesn’t resolve. But I was outside the Bagdad Theater in Portland one night when I saw a man playing the saxophone. I stood there for fifteen minutes, and he never opened his eyes.

After that I liked jazz music.

Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.”

We are often invited into love by witnessing someone love —
an activity,
a creativity,
a person,
a family,
a community,
ourselves.

Renee Roederer

And So We Resound: Mark’s Invitational Gospel

Paul Says That Mark Is Futile: No Resurrection In Mark's Gospel

This Easter Sunday poem was commissioned by Northminster Presbyterian Church in Endwell, New York.

When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.’ So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.– Mark 16:4-8

They fled from the tomb.

They said nothing to anyone.

They were afraid.

Silence.


Mark’s Gospel ends there.
The last words
are
no
words.

Nothing conveyed.
Nothing spoken.
Nothing shared.
Nothing.



Nothing.

Fear — yes —
Great Fear.

But
Nothing.

Silence.

It’s as if the curtain closes,
Or the movie screen goes blank.

We sit there in silence,
in the dark,
waiting for more,
for what must be coming.

But the women — even the brave women —
say nothing.

We wait.
What must be coming?

Nothing.

Then suddenly we realize — … oh, becoming
We are invited to become the voices.
We are invited to become the proclaimers.
We are invited to become the exclaimers:

“He has been raised,
He is not here,
He is in Galilee,
There we will see him.”

We are the voices:

“He is Risen!”
“He is Risen, Indeed!”

We speak these words back and forth,
We enact these words back and forth,
We who are the voices,
We who are the proclaimers.
We who are the exclaimers.

We move beyond our own fear.
This story is ours to tell.
We move beyond our own silence.
This story is ours to share.

We resound, and we live the unfolding story:

“He is Risen!”
“He is Risen, Indeed!”

“He is Risen!”
“He is Risen, Indeed!”

Renee Roederer

A Lesson from the Past, On Healing — By N.J. Phillips

Experienced trauma is largely thought to impact the mind
And so treated as such 

“To heal,” they say, “you must first sit
And talk
And think
And process
And change how you think,
By sitting,
And continuing to talk
Then listen to me talk
So I can tell you how you think wrong
But if you keep thinking, 
While sitting, 
You will get better
Oh and maybe some medicine too”

But trauma is first felt
Deeply and completely through the body

So if the body is not addressed
But rather told to passively sit
How can we heal deeply?

Before therapy, there was dance
Before therapy, there was moaning, and singing and chants
This self-ownership was not done alone, 
In an office with dusty plants, 
The stomping of one’s foot on the ground was echoed by another
Who knew that pain and stomped in recognition
Movement together voiced, you are not alone, 
Without needing to utter a single word

Every song was an act of rebellion 
Every dance, a revolution 
Bodies were reclaimed
And deep healing occurred
Not through sitting
But through creation with one’s own body
And an understanding of its unbreakable power

Trauma that impaired the mind was released
Because a spirit can never be owned

-N.J. Phillips


—-N.J. Phillips (She/Her/Hers) Pictured: Young, white female, with short blond hair, wearing a blue dress and necklace in front of bricks. NJ is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University’s Occupational Therapy Program. She is a PWD as well as a disability advocate, Catholic, aunt, and lover of plants. Her favorite way to spend time is in the company of others. She would like to remind readers that hope and help are possible for all and if you or someone you knows is in need of emergency mental services please call the National Suicide Hotline at (800)273-8255 and to please save this number in your phone. Thank you. 

G.F.

sorrowful mystery
This painting is entitled, ‘Crocifissione” by Gerardo Dottori and is in the Vatican Museum.

G.F.

We remember Good Friday.
We remember George Floyd.

We remember and
make present
all crucifixions ancient and modern,
Each real
Each now
in community,
in memory,
in body.

This week,

The 17 year old witness who captured the video
says she lies awake, wondering if she did enough.

This week,

The 19 year old store clerk who reported the counterfeit 20-dollar bill
says he reconsiders constantly, wondering if he should have let his pay get docked.

This week,

The 61 year old bystander who showed up on the scene
says he understands what it feels like to miss a Mama, wondering if tears matter.

Yet none of these placed their knee on his neck.

Cross.
Nails.
Trauma.
Love.

The loss is present.
The love is present.

Memory, swirling.
Pain and
Sacred worth.

We remember Good Friday.
We remember George Floyd.

Renee Roederer

Fresh Start Effect

plant
A new green, leafy plant grows from the soil. Public domain image.

Have you heard of the Fresh Start Effect? It’s the idea that smaller markers of time can serve as openings to ask new questions, initiate new practices, or work toward new goals. Many people set aims like these when they make New Year’s Resolutions, but these can often be even more life-giving on smaller scales – days, weeks, and months.

Today is a new month.

Would you like to sit with a new question, try a practice for 30 days, or perhaps name April as the template for completing a step toward a larger goal or larger hope? We have such an opening today.

If you have thoughts on this — particular hopes, particular directions — I’d love to hear from you. What would you like April to be for you?

– Renee Roederer