By Ceil Roeger, OP
Monday, March 3, communicators, justice promoters, and members of leadership teams, gathered at Bethany Retreat Center in Lutz, Florida, for LCWR’s Imagining Justice. As with many gatherings, we began with a social and dinner. It was here that we realized there were seven women representing Dominican congregations in attendance. Sisters Marcelline Koch, OP (Springfield); Ann Marie Lustig, OP (Tacoma); Judy Lu Mc Donnell, OP and Lyn Kirkconnell (San Raphael); Joy Peterson, PBVM (promoter of peace and justice for the Sinsinawa Dominicans); Elizabeth Zwareva, MM (Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic) and Ceil Roeger, OP (Houston). Moving from the dining room to the meeting room, the work and fun began.
Before the usual introduction and getting to know you piece, Nancy Sylvester, IHM, director of the Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue, asked us to “Reflect on your work for social justice and systemic change. What have you found most satisfying and most life giving? Why?” The reflection and sharing grounded us as we moved into the concerns of the world and how our work for ustice can be informed by our speaking and listening from a contemplative heart.
Along with contemplative prayer, Nancy used Christopher Fry’s poem, “A Sleep of Prisoners,” as a guide for our time together.
A SLEEP OF PRISONERS
Dark and cold we may be, but this
Is no winter now. The frozen misery
Of centuries breaks, cracks, begins to move;
The thunder is the thunder of the floes,
The thaw, the flood, the upstart Spring.
Thank God our time is now when wrong
Comes to face us everywhere,
Never to leave us till we take
The longest stride of soul we ever took.
Affairs are now soul size.
Is exploration into God.
Where are you making for? It takes
So many thousand years to wake,
But will you wake for pity’s sake!
Starting with “the upstart Spring,” we began exploring where we are in our evolutionary journey and the enterprise of exploration into God. With this grounding, we asked how we can do this work of justice differently. Can we exercise contemplative power that helps to transform us and the entire world? Can we touch something on a human level that we don’t touch on a political level? Can our work for justice help create new spaces for conversation?
We left the gathering energized and challenged together to consider the polarities we experience in light of each person’s own journey on the path of evolving consciousness. Our goal is to connect the contemplative life and our work for justice and to find common ground despite the polarities.