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Weekly Pause & Ponder

...We don’t have to agree with each other in order to think well together. There is no need for us to be joined at the head. We are joined by our human hearts. 

Margaret Wheatley.  www.quotationsbywomen.com


Waking Up from a Millennia-Long Sleep

The most remarkable feature of this historical moment on Earth is not that we are on the way to destroying the world---we’ve actually been on the way for quite a while. It is that we are beginning to wake up, as from a millennia-long sleep, to a whole new relationship to our world, to ourselves, and to each other. (Joanna Macy—activist, environmentalist, Buddhist practicioner Italics are mine)

In a nutshell, Joanna Macy shines a clear light on what integral ecology means. The word ecology in the phrase gives the limited view that integral ecology is about environmental issues. Not so. In its root meaning integral ecology is about the interdependent relationships in the household that we call earth…and beyond.

What is amazing is how our consciousness has evolved over the last 50 years. It would never have occurred to most of us 50 years ago to call earth our common home. The boundaries of what we would have called the “neighbourhood” would have been confined to about two blocks from where we lived. In this present chaotic era, we know viscerally and with some anxiety that climate agreements must be global; we know as we have never known before that poverty and images of scarcity set the groundwork for war; we sense in our bones that our images of God, of the Sacred radically influence how we live together; we experience that acts of generosity and courage add to the field of wisdom in which we can all share.

We need to give our attention and our intention to this: seeing what is wrong, what are the distortions that are damaging the earth and each other AND being tenacious about holding the primal truth about the goodness, empathy and innate desire for connection at the heart of who we are. If we only focus on what is wrong, cynicism and arrogance will eventually prevail. If we only see the beauty of the possible, we may become detached from the real and present suffering in our world. Holding both together gives momentum to what can change.

And so, together, let us keep waking up to a whole new relationship to our world, to ourselves, and to each other. And in the process, we just might be discovering a whole new relationship with and within God.

Margo Ritchie, CSJ




From One Generation to the Next: Inspiration is a Priceless Legacy

"A physician father treats all and dies from the illness of his patients." He tells his little daughter, “If someone is drowning you must extend your hand.” His daughter Irena who does not know if she can save herself risks all to rescue 2,500 Jewish children, smuggling many out of the Warsaw ghetto.

Four Kansas teenagers seek the truth of the Holocaust and discover Irena's story of courage. Through correspondence Irena helps them to deal with the illness of their parents and 9/11.

The teenagers produce a play “Life in a Jar” to record their research. The play is enacted in schools over 345 times in the U.S., Poland and Canada. In Poland especially the play opens up discussions of this dark time. Through the play Irena is able to influence many others.

Irena told the teenagers, “After the Second World War it seemed that humanity understood something and nothing similar would happen again.” She added, “Humanity has understood nothing. Religious, tribal, national wars continue. The world continues to be in a sea of blood. The world can be better if there's love, tolerance and humility. Compassion for all people is part of repairing the world.”

Irena did not consider herself a hero and said she had done only a “regular thing.”

Elzbieta Ficowska, a child whom Irena rescued, said, “Irena represents the often forgotten truth that no one should be indifferent. It's particularly the young who need people like Mrs. Schindler.”

Reach out – you can influence others for good no matter your age.

Click HERE to read Irena's story. More inspiring details can be found HERE.

Marguerite Wales, sister of Sister Nancy Wales, CSJ


Weekly Pause & Ponder

The task that remains is to cope with our interdependence – to see ourselves reflected in every other human being and to respect and honor the differences.

Melba Patillo Beals.  Warriors Don’t Cry.


This Is No ‘Bird-brained’ Mama

"Ask the animals, and they will teach you, Or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you.” Job 12:7

Whoever coined the term 'bird-brained,' really does not know much about birds. This wordsmith should have been here on this cold Sunday afternoon to observe a Canadian mother goose and her chicks on our green roof. There is absolutely nothing 'bird-brained' about this amazing protective mama. Not only is she not lacking in neither seriousness nor maturity, attributes according to the Webster Dictionary which define being 'bird-brained,' she has things to teach us humans.

Now, l could be tempted to boast that this mama bird with her black head and neck and white patch on her face is unique, because she is Canadian. However, then I might be dubbed ‘bird-brained.’ Silly me, for nature writer David Quammen in his essay “The Miracle of the Geese” claims that geese are images of humanity’s own highest self. This is true not only of Canadian geese but of mama birds of every ilk, for they are some of the most amazing creatures with whom we share our Creator's beautiful world. They embody liberty, grace and loving devotion, especially to their young. If you lived at the edge of our green roof with its steep drop, would you know how to lovingly care for newborn sextuplets come rain or shine, without a roof over your head? How would you feed those six babes?  Mama birds instinctively know how to care for, protect and feed their brood.

God, who is not only our Father but also our Mother, is likened in Scripture to “a hen who gathers her chicks under her wings.”  This tender image paints God as a protecting and sheltering God, an attribute God bestows on mothers.

Come Mother’s Day, let us gratefully honour all our mothers for their selfless love and care with which they surround us. Both those living, and all who have gone home to God, are immense blessings in our lives. 

Sr. Magdalena Vogt, CPS 

"Mother is a verb. It’s something you do, not just who you are."
Dorothy Canfield Fisher








Copyright 2013. Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada.