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Life’s paschal movements invite new perspectives

By Roma De Robertis, SCIC

When fully awake, I recognize life attempting to sculpt me into a more receptive, responsive and joyful participant. A recent invitation to new perspectives arose as I emerged from church here in Saint John, N.B. With many others, I was tiptoeing to the car after yet another blast of Maritime ice and snow.

Walking and driving were risky. As adults, our winter-weary spirits fuelled conversation centred mainly on the four-letter “s” word. No more snow!

After liturgy, I was commiserating with others when I heard and then saw four children laughing with abandon, sliding on the record-high snow mounds. “They’ve got the right idea!” said the woman approaching the next frozen vehicle. “Yes,” I agreed, my spirit lifting.

How fine is the line between catastrophe and blessing? In seasons anticipating and realizing resurrection, I wonder what ideas and choices I tend to nurture.

In paschal movements among life, death and resurrection, it seems awakening and advocating change can be threatening. Seeking to proclaim and embody the heart of the gospel, Pope Francis receives widespread support while also facing stiff opposition. After all, we have suffered and grieved regarding abuse and injustice in church and society, why deny or ignore an urgent need for transformation?

Yet the trouble with discounting, denigrating or silencing true prophets is that their energy expands and their voices amplify. Like Jesus, their lives resonate especially among those most affected by illness, injustice and environmental destruction.

Strangely, vulnerability seems to provoke fear while also presenting possibility. God’s Spirit carries integrity through and beyond persecution and death within our own brokenness, solidarity and Spirit-imbued resilience.

When the Berlin Wall came down, I joined the world in celebrating the end of the Cold War, but now lament mounting East-West tension, violence and deception. In the aftermath of 9/11, I hoped for the growth of what seemed a new international humility and harmony.

Out of such horrors grew global networks committed to interfaith and intercultural understanding, which continue to inspire hopeful relationships. Yet terrorism and counterterrorism bring unimaginable instability and mistrust. Now we tremble at a new wave of extremism and barbarity.

As Gandhi proclaimed when leading non-violent resistance to British colonialism in India, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

Amid the chaos, green shoots bravely rise from earth’s parched cracks. Global commitment to fossil fuel divestment and climate justice continues to swell. Cries for gender equality echo widely. Beyond individualism and consumerism, younger seekers dedicate themselves to social and environmental responsibility.

People from diverse backgrounds not only respond charitably to disaster, but also advocate with those most affected to prevent future calamity, encouraging life to flourish for generations as God desires.

Infused with new Easter energy, we receive the invitation to both heed and be clear-eyed prophets, wisely choosing ways to listen, receive, act and respond.

The late spiritual writer Judy Cannato said, “as we grow in our capacity for co-creativity” with God and others, “we learn what is ours to do and what is God’s.” Difficulties arise when we confuse the roles and “try to do what is God’s, or forget or refuse to do what is ours” (Quantum Grace, Notre Dame, Ind.: Ave Maria Press, 2003, p. 59).

Offering hope and joy beyond all boundaries, uncalculated love rises, bringing life out of death.

De Robertis is a Sister of Charity of the Immaculate Conception. A former diocesan editor and columnist for the Prairie Messenger, she now lives in Saint John, N.B.