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Thursday, 31 October 2019 04:13

Looking Forward to MAC 2020

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Paula Schaffner – CA Central Coast Chapter

On MKMAC.org, I read that Nancy Sylvester, IHM, will be the keynote speaker at MAC 2020 next June. Not being well-read in theology or contemplation, I had not heard of her before, and I wanted to get a feel for what wisdom she will be offering to Maryknoll Affiliates. Following the link to https://iccdinstitute.org, I explored her website, finally landing on the Resources page. There I found lists of Downloads, Readings, Poetry and Art, and Talks. Spinning the proverbial wheel of fortune, my pointer landed on her essay, “Finding Our Balance in the Political Landscape,” written in 2017. 

The article arises out of Nancy Sylvester’s experience of needing to steady herself while on a cactus-studded Arizona trail. She realized she could not just reach out and lean on a saguaro, as she would have on a Michigan hardwood. She had to use her inner strength to maintain her balance in that new situation. Applying her unsettling experience to other life situations, she noted that when we find ourselves in new landscapes, we cannot operate out of instinctual, deeply imbedded beliefs that worked before. She likened our interior landscapes, our set of beliefs, to the natural landscapes we grew up in—where we feel most at home. When portions of our landscapes shift, like tectonic plates, they may collide, slip by each other, or move apart. What do we do when that happens? 

How do we become comfortable in this new landscape that is replacing our past worldview? First, we need to recognize when we have come to an impasse—”the feeling that things have gotten so complex that you don’t have the answers anymore”—and take it as an invitation to spiritual growth.

What does this mean for us as Maryknoll Affiliates? I’m looking forward to hearing if this is part of Nancy Sylvester’s message for us. I know we’ll be hearing a lot more about contemplation, which she describes as “a path of awakening, of seeing anew, of deepening our awareness.” Nancy said, “Perhaps we are being asked to respond in new ways after taking time to assess the unfamiliar landscape so as not to end up in worse shape than before.”

I’m curious to see what tools we will gain at MAC 2020, and I hope to see you there!


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