Grieving is not fun–it is painful, it is a necessary process, grieving is an act of letting go of ourselves when we face death in one form or another. It is not something that is welcome in our society–we are told to “put a smile on,” “be brave, be strong,” and we basically ignore the pain of grieving, I have come to the point that when any one tells me in one form or another not to grieve I tell them to “Go to hell,” because grief is necessary to our recovery. I have been grieving all year.
First I am now grieving the leaving of the Reverend Dana Corsello, from St. Luke’s Episcopal Church–I am happy for her as well in her new position–but it hurts like hell, to see her go,I am crying alot. I met Dana nearly seven years ago, she invited me to use the kitchen at the church–on faith–not knowing me; she has stood by me putting herself at risk, she has been my pastor (the only one, and last one I will have since I entered the ministry), she has been my friend; more importantly I have come to understand she has embodied the characteristics which I have and which I learned from my my mother: she is a straight shooter, tells it like it is, she is faithful to Christ, she is loyal in the face of opposition. She never hides her feelings, she never hides her faults or mistakes–she always owns them–she is in essence very real. Dana is the one person I have always felt safe with. I have grown as a person, and as a priest knowing Dana Corsello. So I will miss her.
I grieve the loss of three of my guys this year. I call them my kids, they were all over forty –but always my kids, for I have walked with them these past twenty years. The title “Father” for me is symbolic of the parental role I have always played with my “parishioners,” I grieve them, they gave me as much as I gave them in their strengths.
I grieve for those being put to death on death row in Arkansas, and the inhumanity that our leaders show in the implementation of these executions.
I grieve on this Earth Day because of the lack of care we give creation. For example we need to look at our meat eating and how if we limit our eating we would contribute to care of the earth. Eighty percent of deforestation is from raising meat; Half the world’s grain and about 3/4 of the various major crops in the United States are fed to live stock animals. Meanwhile about one billion people chronically suffer from hunger and starvation. Limiting our consumption of meat is one simple way each of us can contribute to limiting climate change and easing world hunger.
And finally next month I receive my Doctor of Ministry Degree from Knox Theological Seminary, and I grieve the end of my academic career. I have always loved being on campus, studying, being tested, it has always been a means of building my self-esteem. I grieve the friends I have met, who have challenged me, fought with me, and loved me for me. That will change. And in some ways getting this degree signals for me changes in my own journey and to a new beginning in ministry, for my ministry is who I am, and it will be what I will do the rest of my life.
So I grieve, and it is a painful grief, but I rejoice as well in the Risen Christ who journeys with me, and who journeys with all who open their hearts to him.
Deo Gratias! Thanks be God!
Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min. candidate, D.S.T.
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164
Vox Nova is pleased to share the following guest post by Tom Johnson, a Catholic Worker from Dubuque, Iowa, USA.
I have been torn during this presidential election year. As a Catholic Worker, I agree in principle with the movement’s aims and means that the vast size of the U.S. Federal Government makes it “government by nobody”i and, its function as “an effective political forum for redressing grievances, next to impossible.”ii
Then came Bernie Sanders, whose message of economic equality and revolution promised what sounded a lot like Peter Maurin’s “new society within the shell of the old.”iii I felt “the Bern” and became involved.
The presidential campaign system, however, already biased toward the Establishment of the wealthy and seasoned with dirty tricks, rendered its foregone conclusion. I was swayed by the advice that “voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil.” I therefore could not bring myself to vote for either of the candidates, whose policies, to me seemed equally evil.
“But,” I have asked myself more than once, “where can I run from such evil? Where or what is that system which allows principled, compassionate government? Is holding to my principles an excuse for doing nothing?”iv Is it possible for a radical Christian, a Catholic Worker, to live morally, responsibly, and effectively within the current society? What spiritual attitudes and behaviors are required?
“The Aims and Means of the Catholic Worker”v advises the adoption of nonviolence, practicing the works of mercy; doing manual labor; and voluntary poverty. Regarding nonviolent sociopolitical action, it advises:
Jesus taught us to take suffering upon ourselves rather than inflict it upon others, and He calls us to fight against violence with the spiritual weapons of prayer, fasting and noncooperation with evil. Refusal to pay taxes for war, to register for conscription, to comply with any unjust legislation; participation in nonviolent strikes and boycotts, protests or vigils; withdrawal of support for dominant systems, corporate funding or usurious practices are all excellent means to establish peace.vi
I would further recommend – particularly for those who are upset by the current administration of the Empire – the practice of contemplation, a mystical form of prayer slightly distinct from meditation. Contemplation, or Centering Prayer, which leads one away from what Alan Watts describes as our artificial “system of words and symbols”vii to what is real, the world as it actually exists. In other words, we stop looking at our human-made map and regard the scenery, the world as it is.
Contemplation allows us to “Be still and know that I am God!”viii; that God is ultimately responsible and capable, not me or any other human being or system. It reminds us:
For just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down
And do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
Giving seed to those who sow
and bread to those who eat,
So shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
It shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it.ix
It helps me to realize that God’s creative work, although yet unfulfilled, is nevertheless evolving toward wholeness, and with my/our cooperation, God’s reign of justice will indeed prevail.
When I act politically with the confidence that God’s justice will indeed be accomplished someday, I can choose more calmly and proactively, per principle rather than expedient or knee-jerk reactions.
Strangers and sojourners though we may be as we make our life’s journey as subjects of the American Empire, we may travel in the certainty that God will lead us to the Promised Land of justice.