Ten attendees at our annual summer picnic began with a casual conversation over appetizers that turned into deep reflections on what it means to live out a call at this stage of life. In The Great Work of Your Life: a Guide for the Journey of Your True Calling, Stephen Cope examines the life visions and struggles faced by such visionaries as Jane Goodall, Harriet Tubman, Mohandas Gandhi, and several ordinary folks and encourages us to reject the modern idea that ‘we can be anyone we want to be’ and instead to discover and fully pursue their inner self’s calling.
Stories were told at the wake of Jim’s humility, inspiration, and vision. One described his courage. Once, in Peru, armed local leaders confronted Jim in a public square, accusing him of being a spy, challenging his presence. “Why are you here? You don’t belong here,” they screamed. Jim walked right up to the group, stood tall before them and flipped their challenge saying, “It is YOU who don’t belong here. You have cheated and exploited the people. Why are YOU here?” The people then rose up and said, “He’s with us and we’re with him.” Confronted by this cool, daring young priest and his supporters, they backed down. A co-worker later asked Jim if he’d been scared. “Terrified,” he said.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond
... Your playing small does not serve the world.
... We are all meant to shine, as children do.”
The Greater Boston/New England Affiliate Chapter meets bimonthly to enjoy reflection, personal sharing, prayer, and a potluck meal together. About a dozen members include those who have served mission needs on their own or with other groups, as well as former lay missioners, sisters, and priests. Maryknoll brothers and fathers had attended until recently but have since moved elsewhere.
At our meeting this month, we reflected on Nelson Mandela and Jim Madden, MM, men who were not afraid to play big, as well as on personal models who saw our individual lights and encouraged our living full-out. But laying wreaths at the feet of others can beg the challenge to fill our own shoes. So we went on to reveal to each other ways in which we are playing small or are confronting fear and taking the risk to act powerfully.