Not So Far Afield is a bimonthly publication of the Maryknoll Affiliates. The name is a play on the title of the original Maryknoll Magazine: The Field Afar.
You may subscribe to Not So Far Afield by email or to be notified when it is posted on our website.
You may also download PDF versions of Not So Far Afield here.
“Put away your sword,” Jesus told him. “Those who use the sword will die by the sword.”
Students at Parkland, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School experienced the truth of this biblical statement. Survivors of the mass shooting that killed their classmates see the American culture swimming in the use of modern swords—guns, weapons of war, and violent entertainment—and are saying, “Enough!”
What did we do after Columbine happened, or after the little children died at Sandy Hook? Now the high school students from Parkland are saying, “Enough!” This time, more of us are joining our voices to theirs.
In Tucson, we joined an estimated 10,000 people carrying homemade signs and saying, “Enough!” in the March for Our Lives. Tucson and Arizona are not typically considered liberal areas, but the March demanded tightening of gun controls. We were there on March 24, voting with our bodies and energy and homemade signs. We were saying there is enough evidence that the American obsession with guns and violence is killing us and must finally be addressed.
The Presencing Institute has just begun a new series that may interest Affiliates: “Transforming Capitalism.”
Several years ago, a group of Affiliates, along with 25,000 people around the world, participated in the Institute’s on-line course, “U Theory,” discussing the process of developing emerging ideas. Now they are offering the free “Transforming Capitalism Lab”:
For the next 18 months, we’ll host monthly live sessions, share some of the most inspiring stories from around the world, and equip you with methods and tools that will help you turn your own emerging ideas into action.
The first live session aired on April 12th from 10am -11am EDT, but materials from this session are still available.
For details, go to https://www.presencing.org/#/transforming-capitalism-lab/stories.
The Book of Joy—Lasting Happiness in a Changing World,
by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, with Douglas Abrams,
On a recent “Landmark Birthday,” perhaps better characterized as a “Pre-Tombstone Birthday,” a good friend gifted me a copy of The Book of Joy. This book is the result of a week of conversations between the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu at his Holiness’s home in Dharamsala, India, where he has lived since his escape from Tibet in March of 1959. Author Douglas Abrams has worked with Archbishop Tutu on other projects and does a masterful job of providing a framework of directed conversations over a five-day period.
Along with an introduction that highlights the great friendship and compatibility of these two major figures from different religious traditions, the book is divided into two major sections: “The Obstacles to Joy” and “The Eight Pillars of Joy.” As a sampling of the book’s content, the “Obstacle” section has chapters titled “Sadness and Grief: The Hard Times Knit Us More Closely Together,” and “Envy: That Guy Goes Past Us Yet Again in His Mercedes-Benz.”
I won’t give away all of the Eight Pillars, but one chapter is on Humor. Listen to the mischievous banter of these two ultimate jokesters.
The Archbishop pretended to scold him: “Are you listening?”
The Dalai Lama, who had missed the Archbishop’s comment, launched in with, “So that shows, really…”
The Archbishop continued to pretend that he was offended. “You see? He’s not listening.”
“Unless you use the stick, I will not listen,” the Dalai Lama said laughing.
“But I thought you were nonviolent!”
A strength of this book is how Abrams weaves writings of philosophers, theologians, and scientific researchers into the dialogue between his Holiness and the Archbishop. For example, from a psychologist, “Grief is the reminder of the depth of our love.” In one of the eight pillar chapters, one on Gratitude, research by UC Davis professors found that “…grateful people do not seem to ignore or deny the negative aspects of life; they simply choose to appreciate what is positive as well.” “People with a strong disposition toward gratitude have the capacity to be empathic and take the perspective of others. They are rated as more generous and more helpful by people in their social networks.”
The last chapter is titled “Joy Practices” and is bookended with practices that Tibetan Buddhist monks typically do at the beginning and end of each day. Other approaches to meditation and mindfulness are provided in this rather extensive chapter of over 40 pages. As I reviewed the book for this article, it became obvious that I need to re-read it a little at a time so that the fullness of the wisdom of these two remarkable individuals can soak in.
Before his illness, [Affiliate] Bob would often go sit in the Motherhouse Chapel in the afternoon. Sometimes he’d write on small slips of paper he carried in his pocket. Here are some of his jottings.—Liz Maxwell
I am no more, no less in the presence of God in chapel, but senses and emotions are involved in feeling myself to be in the presence, and yet God does not hear me any better in chapel.
It is good to sit in Mystery.
The mist stops our brains.
God help me to fully be, the doing will follow.
Once again, the Maryknoll Sisters are offering a full slate of pertinent workshops. Register soon to obtain a space. (A limited number of tuition scholarships are available.) Coming in May and June:
* May 6-10 (four-day program) - Mariette Danilo, PhD
Navigating Life’s Transitions: Resilience and the Pilgrims’ Journey
* May 13-18 - Alice L. Camille, M.Div and Rev. Paul Boudreau
Future Dreaming: 21st Century Possibilities for Christian Living
* June 3-8 - Yehezkel Landau, D. Min
Spiritual Resources for Interfaith Peacemaking
* June 10-15 - Janice McLaughlin, MM, PhD
Under the Baobab Tree: Spirituality Nourished by Nature
* June 17-22 - Nancy Sylvester, IHM, MA
Facing into Chaos: Deepening Communal Contemplation, Transforming Consciousness
* June 24-29 Anthony Gittins, CSSp, PhD
Mission, Margins and Intercultural Living
See the July-August topics at https://maryknollsisters.org/maryknoll-mission-institute-2/.
I first got to know the Affiliates when I was doing formation work in Chicago (1990-94) and was asked to join the founding Affiliate Board to help with the beginnings of the Affiliate Movement. It was a time of great excitement as this new Expression of Maryknoll came into being.
To share a bit about my background, I was born in Boston, raised in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and spent many of my early years in St. Paul, Minnesota. I joined the Peace Corps after college and graduate school, and as a volunteer and staff member in Korea, I got to know Maryknoll Missioners there. I joined Maryknoll in 1975 and after ordination in 1980, I was sent back to Korea on mission.
I am now a member of several Affiliate Chapters. Presently I live in Chicago and attend the Chicago Affiliate meetings. I also attend the meetings of the Contemplative Affiliate Group and the Kenya Affiliate Chapter, both of which meet virtually using Skype. And I have been connected with the Korea Affiliate Chapter for years, so that when I visit Korea, I attend their chapter meetings. In addition, I am the Society General Council member who relates to the Affiliates, and therefore I am again on the Affiliate Board.
Connecting with Affiliates is one of the joys of being an editor of the NSFA. An Affiliate called me recently, emphatically saying, “We’ve got to keep that spirit of Buen Vivir in our Affiliate community. How can we do that?” We offer the NSFA as one way for Affiliates to connect and share living in harmony. We hope that articles in this issue will inspire your and your chapter’s growth in harmony.
We recognize that we are living in changing times. Octavia Butler, an award-winning Black, science-fiction author writes, “All that you touch You Change. All that you touch Changes you. The only lasting truth is Change.” We need to see and question the change that engulfs us. Bill Murphy and the Easy Meeting question, “Where are you going?” May we ask the questions to help guide the change.
Refugees and immigrants, racism, ecology, different ways of doing mission, and nonviolence are themes for future issues of NSFA. Please send us your actions or reflections in these areas—or tell us about your passions for Community, Spirituality, Global Vision, and Action.
Six long-time residents of Hawaii with deep Maryknoll connections shared their stories over lunch at the home of Roseyn Devlin in Kailua, Hawaii, on the island of Oahu. This Affiliate chapter began more than 10 years ago after Jack Sullivan recognized their Maryknoll connections, and that they were already meeting, and suggested they form a chapter. Several of the members knew some of the Maryknoll Sisters and the 25-year Affiliates honored at the recent Conference in Guatemala. Roseyn has also attended a couple of Maryknoll Affiliate Conferences in New York and while there visited some Maryknoll Sisters she knew.
The Maryknoll School in Honolulu was a connection for several Affiliates. Roseyn worked 22 years as the librarian, and Patti Shannon also served there. Ginny Klein’s four children attended the coed school.
Betsy Connors served in Taiwan as a Maryknoll Sister nurse for several years before she left the order and later married Larry. Larry, now deceased, became a chiropractor in Hawaii and was part of the Maryknoll Affiliate Oahu chapter since its beginning. This October, Betsy and Roseyn attended and were inspired by the Maryknoll Sisters’ gathering in Hawaii for sisters serving in East Asia and the Pacific.
Attention Northeast Region Chapters:
You are invited to participate in the NE regional meeting at Maryknoll on April 21st. The theme of the day-long meeting will be:
Balance: Balance in our own lives and
Balance in our Affiliate Chapters
Join us for an informative and interactive conference with a contemplative eye on the present and a collective eye on the future. As the Affiliate Board and all the entities look ahead, we believe we must also pay attention to the present—what works, what doesn’t, and what ideas can be shared among the NE chapters.
Chapter contacts in the region will soon be receiving a conference schedule which will include details on how to register. Hope to see you at the Maryknoll Sisters’ campus in April.
A big part of my work is helping people process and relate to encounters with social and economic inequality, and to do so with the intentionality necessary to develop nuanced, respectful responses that engender authentic solidarity. This requires my own continued examination of common reactions by privileged people to encounters with people in more marginalized positions, and to develop intentional language to preempt, challenge, and reframe those reactions.
In that vein, I’ve been thinking a lot about the all too common takeaway, “They’re poor, but they’re joyful.” I’m not unique in feeling that this language is problematic (to paraphrase Paul Farmer in regard to impoverished Haitians: they may have nice smiles and good senses of humor, but they still know they’re living in desperate conditions). But I am finding it necessary to more thoughtfully reflect on what accounts for this reaction, what truths are present within it, and, more importantly, why we need to challenge others (and ourselves) to think and speak differently.
If you attended MAC 2017 in Guatemala, you will enjoy reading about the Greater Los Angeles Maryknoll Affiliates Chapter’s recent visitors. We learned that Daniel Caño, the Mayan spiritual guide who presented about Mayan spirituality and led a ceremony at the MAC, would be in the Los Angeles area in February, and after much communication, Tim Moffett, Sr. Kathleen Shannon, Kathee Bautista, and I, and a few others, spent an afternoon with Daniel Caño, his wife Teresa, and his sister-in-law Ana.
We gathered at Olvera Street, the location of the early Mexican founders of Los Angeles. After walking among the various booths, we returned Daniel’s hospitality to those of us at MAC with an enjoyable, tasty lunch at an Olvera Street restaurant. Over lunch we had rich conversation with Daniel, Teresa, and Ana about Mayan spiritual practice.
After lunch, some of us took Daniel and Teresa to Our Lady Queen of the Angels Cathedral, a few blocks away. We enjoyed the tapestries of John Nava and saw an exhibit of Catholic high school students’ artwork in a variety of mediums. We were all impressed that those young people had produced such interesting art. Daniel had his camera with him and took photos throughout the day.
Kimberly and Andres helped with translations. Kimberly Nuvem Bautista, who is bilingual, has lived in Guatemala, and Andres Garcia is an intern at the nearby Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers LA office. Daniel and Teresa thanked us frequently. The Caños’ connection with Los Angeles continued as Kimberly, who has friends who are spiritual leaders from indigenous traditions in Mexico, prepared dinner for Daniel and Teresa and her friends.
Revive your spirit of Buen Vivir by getting together:
Earth Day is Sunday, April 22.
We’re raising a united Catholic voice to make the most of this moment. The Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) is creating a complete resource kit for Earth Day to help your community celebrate, advocate, and educate for creation. The kit ncludes:
Register now (http://catholicclimatemovement.global/earth-day-2018/) to receive GCCM Earth Day updates, first-look materials, and more.
Last November Pope Francis pointed out four perverse attitudes to avoid. First denial and indifference, but also resignation—that temptation to decide some of what is needed is impractical or not possible—and trust in inadequate solutions!
Laudato Si 165 says we must shift off of fossil fuels without delay, in our electricity/utilities and transportation. Now it’s time for moral action inspired by Pope Francis, Maryknollers, and the Global Catholic Climate Movement. Come Holy Spirit!
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” —Mary Oliver
My wife, Jane, and I joined 21 Maryknoll jubilarians, who were marking 65th, 60th, 50th, or 40th anniversaries of ordination last June. The two-day celebration involved small gatherings of families and friends, as well as a huge and colorful liturgy in the chapel. Representatives of the four Maryknoll expressions—the Society, Congregation, Lay Missioners, and Affiliates—attended, and the chapel’s walls and windows reverberated with the sounds of brass horns, basses, and drums in full accompaniment.
After filling up on the spirit in the liturgy, we feasted on that special Maryknoll hospitality, a picnic with no end to the variety and quantity of food. People may not live by bread alone, but food is a good place to start.