React or Respond (or Initiate and Weave)

When we react, we respond impulsively. We might experience a momentary catharsis, but also, in all likelihood, we make the situation worse.

We respond from our generosity. We perceptively consider what is needed and can shepherd a positive outcome.

With both reactions and responses, though, the process started with someone or something outside of ourselves. The alternative is to initiate.

This takes courage, to begin something new. With initiative, courage, and endurance, though, we can do the important things. We can weave people together to serve the common good.

See, Judge, _____?

The See, Judge, Act method developed by Cardinal Joseph Cardijn and employed by the Latin American Bishops roots in Thomas Aquinas’ description of the virtue of prudence.

But so often, today, we stop at the first two steps.  We see and we judge.  We comment instead of contribute and create.

Action requires risk, and so vulnerability.  

Let’s pray for the courage to see, judge, and act.

Taking Charge of the Weight of Reality

This week (16 November) we recall the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador.  One of the Jesuits, Ignacio Ellacuría, was a philosopher and theologian, and part of his legacy was to offer a three-fold approach to engage the times that one lives in.  It is:

(1) To realize the weight of reality (hacerse cargo)

(2) To shoulder the weight of reality (cargar con)

(3) To take charge of the weight of reality (encargarse de)  

Even the first takes major guts.  With all three, a disciple can transform reality, and be transformed by the courageous work.

Rearranging Our Prejudices

Psychologist William James once observed that “a great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.” The alternative to this, learning to see the world as it is, is difficult work.  But if we are to change our culture to serve the common good, it is the only place toContinue reading “Rearranging Our Prejudices”

Playing to Win

The first sports coach that I remember was a passionate, gruff-voiced, rail-thin, two-maybe-three-pack-a-day smoker named Gary. He coached us soccer and he was the best.

I often recall advice that he hollered at us one halftime.

“You guys are playing NOT TO LOSE. I want you to PLAY TO WIN!”

How often do we play to win? In our work? Our relationships? Our life in the church?

And how often do we play not to lose?

Telling Our Stories

One of the finest gifts that we can offer another is a generous, compassionate space into which they can tell their story.  

Perhaps such a space opens up between old friends, catching up after a time apart.  

Or maybe it is in the context of a silent retreat, where a director helps a retreatant to deeply perceive the presence of grace and use this perspective to tell again their life’s narrative.

Katie and I were given such a gift recently from the folks at the Notre Dame Alumni Association who run the digital ministries of FaithND when we recorded an episode on their Everyday Holiness podcast diving into our ongoing formation and the creation of Sorin Starts a School.  For this generosity, we are immensely grateful. 

How we tell our stories matters a great deal for how we live.  Let us offer to each other a loving space into which we can tell our stories.

I Can’t Know How!

When our 2.5 year old has difficulty with a task, he will exclaim, “I can’t know how!”

He, of course, means that he doesn’t know how, but I have found myself thinking about the comical phrase that he does use.

Too often, we operate implicitly out of the assumption that we can’t know how to do something.  (That challenge in front of me…  it is… impossible!)

Except, in almost every case, it isn’t impossible.  Yes, I might have to change how I dedicate my time.  And, yes, I may have to take some vulnerable risks and show up consistently with emotional endurance.  

If I do those things, I realize that I can, in fact, know how.

Cozy or Compelling

Steve Jobs died 10 years ago this month. To mark the anniversary, one of his closest collaborators, Jony Ive, reflected on his relationship with Jobs in the Wall Street Journal. Ive remarked that:

“I had thought that by now there would be reassuring comfort in the memory of my best friend and creative partner, and of his extraordinary vision.”

“But of course not. Ten years on, he manages to evade a simple place in my memory. My understanding of him refuses to remain cozy or still. It grows and evolves.”

This type of dynamic, compelling memory is a remarkable thing to consider.

Are we able to say the same about our memory of mentors who made us dream of significant lives? Or of our “favorite” saints? Wasn’t it Dorothy Day who said she hoped she would never be considered a saint because she did not want to be dismissed so quickly?

Let us pray for the grace of memories that compel us to lives of significant generosity.

Straw Man or Steel Man

When we consider a person that, at this moment, we do not agree with, what is the story that we tell about them?

Does it resemble a “straw man?”  That is, do we pick only the flimsiest parts of their perspective and rail against it?

Or do we set up a “steel man?”  That is, do we consider their position with cognitive empathy and fill out their narrative as strongly as possible?

One strategy will help us productively and compassionately engage the world as it is.  The other will inflate our ego’s self-righteousness.

Fun and Serious, Deep and Delightful

Katie shipped out Sorin Starts a School last week, and then the fun began.  We started receiving texts and emails from you all about reading the book for the first time.  What a joy to connect, especially about something we have anticipated sharing for so long!

The brief message from the father of a friend stood out to us.  He wrote that the book struck him as both “fun and serious,” both “whimsical” and inclusive of “faith and determination.”

This weaving of depth and delight is precisely our aim, and hearing that the book makes good on this promise fills us with gratitude.  Thank you for believing in what Katie and I made.

If you are the sort of person who shares things on the interwebs, we’d love to have you as a partner in sharing the book.  Of particular value are: 1) leaving a review here (scroll down and click on the part that says “reviews”) and 2) emailing folks you know who would delight in the book.  

Let the (serious) fun continue!