Global Contemplation on the Integrating Poster: New Foundations in Mercy
An elegant Catherine McAuley rose, anchored by a strong green leaf, touched by a tiny raindrop/teardrop on its golden petal, and grounded by Catherine’s tomb centered the global conversations on the integrating poster for New Foundations in Mercy. In this fourth theme of segment two in Mercy Global Presence, 241 women and men of Mercy from thirteen countries gathered to reflect on where Mercy is calling us today. Despite these times of chaos, uncertainty, anxieties, growing poverty, climate emergency and increasing disparity, the conversations spoke to hope visibly rising among us and around us. In the words of one participant, “My way of trying to announce hope is to seek to bring the new dream, new images, new spiritualities to the foreground of life rather than background.” Hope is rising.
Hope is rising in the new ways of ministry in which Mercy is responding – new presence of Mercy along border crossings; new presence of Mercy to migrants, refugees, displaced persons and restoration of Earth; new ways of living the spiritual and corporate works of Mercy (even adding an eighth work of showing Mercy to Earth); and new ways of partnering in most unexpected ways of responding in Mercy.
Hope is rising in the simpler lifestyle to which the times are calling us. This call to simplicity comes as we are socially isolated for safety and protection during the global pandemic. Decluttering is happening in uninvited yet welcomed ways as simplicity becomes a new source of energy for community and for ministry, giving us the freedom to allow in the new.
Hope is rising through masks and social distancing which demand that we find new ways of communicating and relating. Facetime and Zoom have become metaphors for a way of communicating which we would never have imagined and which we would never have accepted if we had not been driven by the realities of the times. We have used those new technologies in wonderfully creative and freeing ways – no matter what our age or degree of familiarity with modern technology.
Hope is rising in our new sense of courage and a new solidarity which is emerging amid suffering. Tears of pain during one Zoom global conversation become tears of joy in the next Zoom conversation as we reach out to each other, offering support and compassion and gratitude. We are learning anew the joy that young people bring as, together, we listen and learn about care for our common home. The young student Sophie Snowball’s sculpture of the fish swimming in the ocean and in the light and made from found materials of single-use plastics becomes a symbol of the “found materials” of our tradition now given new life. The Icelandic master storyteller and environmental activist, Andri Snær Magnason says one of the flaws of our civilization is its inability to see itself into the future. Young people help us see ourselves into the future.
Hope is rising in the growing appreciation of diversity and inclusion as we see, hear and share Mercy experiences from our lived experiences of Mercy flowing from one source but lived in many realities. The simple word listen has new layers of meaning as we realize how rich is the tradition which we are privileged to call ours and how rich are the traditions which we are privileged to receive from others. The simple word stranger has new layers of meaning as we heard again Maureen Murphy’s poetic words, “Who are we if not kin?” Valarie Kaur’s See No Stranger was named by several participants as another expression of “radical and joyful practices to heal ourselves and transform the world around us.”
Hope is rising in our newfound confidence in our capacity within ourselves and with others. As one of us said, “We may be aged but we are well, alive and mercying!” Another reminded us that presence, encounter, and solidarity are the true marks of our living into hope. And yet another said that this newfound hope demands not only a new mindset but a new heartset!
This set of conversations ended with a global contemplation on the eight integrating posters. Words said aloud echoed themes threaded across all posters: “God dancing with creation,” “God mercifying the universe into being,” “Earth freed to restore herself,” “God’s infinite affection for us,” and “Were not our hearts burning within us?” Mary Sullivan’s words were quoted with joy, ““If we wish to sow the seeds of real hope in our world, I think Catherine McAuley would say: This is the way we must do it – one person at a time: one answering of the figurative doorbell, one opening of the figurative door, one embrace of the stranger, one welcoming of the other, one sharing of our bread and milk – one person at a time.”
From the last week of July 2020 to the first week of September 2020, Mercy International Association’s vision was given new resonance and new energy in 12 global conversations on 4 themes by 1008 participants from 19 countries. We echo the wonderful Swahili words of thanks: Asante Sana! Asante Sana! Asante Sana!
Messages to: MGP Guiding Group