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Thursday, 27 February 2020 18:56

The Affiliates’ Interim Time

Written by Bob Short
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Bob Short – Executive Coordinator,, MAC 2020 Committee member

At some juncture in our lives, a good number us have dithered over what would be a fitting, engaging title for a term paper, article, or workshop. It can be a grueling process. In one moment, there’s inspiration, and the next, exasperation; bouts of energy, then tedium; feelings of “I’ve got it” followed in short measure by doubt. So it was with the title for MAC2020: Witnessing Love in the Interim Time.

Witnessing Love was an easy sell. But several on the MAC2020 team initially asked what the heck “Interim Time” meant. Ultimately, we all came to see that this phrase, inspired by John O’Donohue’s poem, For the Interim Time, was actually key to understanding the place we find ourselves in these days. You might have an intuitive sense of this yourself. Something is fundamentally different. As posted on the website a few weeks back, Pope Francis said, “…it’s not an era of change, but a change or eras.”

Everything about MAC 2020 is meant to help us see how to love in chaotic, seemingly random times. The first sentence of the synopsis of Nancy Sylvester’s keynote reads: “How do we witness to Love in a time of chaos when all our structures and systems are breaking down?” Nancy promises that she’ll look at this from a contemplative place that will bring a sense of peace and perspective. So, it’s not a glum, gloomy, depressing exploration that’ll make you want to pack a bottle of Prozac. In the end, we think there’s a good chance that a genuine sense of joy will emerge.

The five workshops on Friday afternoon – Community, Influencing Public Policy, Caring for the Earth, Seeking Shelter, and Communication & Courageous Conversations speak to the Affiliates’ Four Pillars in this context. The Open Space session and the time set aside for discussing where we are as an Affiliate Movement provide a personally focused look. Perhaps the most illuminating and evocative take will be on display in the segment with the younger generation on Saturday morning, a first for any MAC. Ilia Delio wrote, “They are born into a world that has been rewiring and rerouting its planetary circuits since the beginning of the twentieth century… personal identity is relational rather than self-reflective… community, authenticity, and transparency are especially important.” (Birth of a Dancing Star, pp. 189-90). 

In the end, odds are that the best learning about how to witness love in this crazy time will come from our relationships as we move about the corridors and outside spaces at Graymoor, listening and conversing with each other from a place of profound respect. In the end, isn’t it in relationship (the relational nature of just about everything) wherein the deepest learning takes place?!

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