Saturday, November 29, 2014


Maleficient.  The perfect example of both good and evil existing together as one.  The good and evil manifest themselves in the context of the physical (land of humans) and spiritual (land of the Moors) not being united.  The disconnect between the physical and spiritual worlds comes about because true love is not fulfilled.  But when true love reigns - when Maleficient kisses Aurora on the head - the curse is lifted, and the two worlds can unite.

When we allow God's agape love to rule our lives, we can unite the spiritual and the physical, and live as one with the universe. It takes a lot of courage, though. As we saw when Stefan left Maleficient, failure to love and/or have that love returned can turn hearts cold. Yet if we are open to the spirit, we can allow God's grace and mercy to warm our hearts.

If we find and name our inner Maleficient, we can identify what we should seek to warm our hearts.  Having a one-track mind for a very long time, keeping blinders on to other parts of life, can form dark spots in our line of vision. But once we realize we aren't getting the whole picture, we can begin to let light shine on the dark spots.

Shutting myself off from the culture and media that was prevalent in my life growing up, while allowing for new experiences, also created dark spots in my view and interpretation of the world.  The way I was introduced to the Franciscans was only a partial introduction to the Franciscan family. Much was left in the blind spots. My ideas about how to learn about culture only provided a segment of the various ways to understand tradition. And my education and experience working in nutrition, public health, and social justice is only one component of JPIC work. We can never get the whole picture at the same time, but we must always seek to illuminate the blind spots.

If we continually integrate and synthesize our growing awareness of and understanding of St. Francis, culture, and public health / JPIC work in with our outer and our inner reality, we can grow in faith and spirituality, awake the Sleeping Beauty inside each of us, and live in paradise... or in heaven on earth.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

From Franciscan charismatic revival to animating peace, the OFS way

We are fully three dimensional beings. I know this better than I know myself. I may have the attention of a rabbit, but that is only because I know the possibilities and potential in life are endless. We are one with the universe, which recreates itself every day. It's fascinating to think about.

I learned the divine spirit that's present in relationships through my experiences at CYFM, 10-15 years ago. Fr. Jim who Leah Kozak introduced me to the other day reminded me that my experience there was part of the charismatic revival of the Capuchins.  I knew there was something distinct about the unique way I was introduced to my faith as a teen, and I have cherished these moments inside ever since then. I've consciously and unconsciously let the Franciscan charism become part of my DNA, my way of operating in the world and interacting with others.

I've learned in life the sciences of nutrition, of food justice, of public health and social justice. I am aware of the interactions and connections between these disciplines, and that all are necessary in the elimination of health disparities. Necessary, but not sufficient. There are other sciences which I have not yet mastered but which I'm sure are equally as important - such as the disciplines of nonviolent communication and peacemaking...and the discipline of spirituality. The last one should be the simplest...yet if simple was easy more people would live that way. The discipline of spirituality may be one of the hardest things humans were ever asked to do, but we must remember nothing worthwhile ever came easily.

I have always ever pursued something new because it made sense in the context of where I had been and where I wanted to go at the time. I am at the point where I feel the limitations in my contributions to effectively contribute to the disciplines I've been exposed to so far...partially because I already know much about them and how they work, partially because I know there is so much else out there that is important that I haven't yet mastered, but largely also because I know much that these disciplines seek to accomplish won't be fulfilled until more people infuse spirituality into their work and pursue faith-rooted organizing. 

It therefore brought me peace when I came across Carolyn Townes OFS's blog, "Animate Peace," yesterday, and I saw all various ways she is working to infuse Catholic Social Teaching and Franciscan spirituality in with JPIC (Justice, Peace, Integrity of Creation) work.  I can only wonder how profound it would be to introduce social workers and public health professionals to the concept of Franciscan JPIC work. The more we can move people from a place of spirituality, the more effective our work will be, and we will transform hearts in the process. I also feel it's my obligation to bring these spiritual efforts into the secular world of work, because I have spent just as much if not more of my life nurturing my secular professional work as I have nurturing my spiritual life. The two cannot live separately any longer. They must become one, as we are one with the universe. 

May I learn to simplify so much so that I can be one who animates peace.

Pace e bene.