A weekend of engagement, wet but undampened

Principal author:
John L. Clark


A number of activities kept me busy this rainy weekend as I worked in a few venues to try to share ideas with and among others.

I found some opportunities this weekend to try to work on the Civilization Crisis from a few different angles. This was all at the grassroots level, though, which means that it was all small scale person-to-person work. I didn't get to see some of my close friends as much as I would have liked, but I may have started a few new friendships. I may have made some enemies, too. For its part, the weekend was 1 part sunny and 2 parts rainy, although it was a warm and refreshing spring rain. For my part, the work was 2 parts energizing and 1 part frustrating, but I am glad to be doing it.

Part of my attack strategy is that the Catholic Church needs to engage its gears on the resource problems we face. On Saturday, this led me to a conference called Raising the Tide at the Sisters of Notre Dame Education Center in Chardon. This was a brainstorming session for drawing "young adults" into more active roles in the Church. It was well-organized, and the people who showed up were genuinely engaged and open with one another.

Perhaps I was too open. When it came time to divide ourselves into groups around topics of interest, I (surprise surprise) posted the topic of Environmental Justice; I only attracted three other people, and I don't think they were happy with me by the end of our discussion. Granted, I'm not trying to make people happy, but I may have come on a little strong. (Where's the understatement tag in this thing, anyway?) At one point the one Sister who had decided to join us said to me, "I didn't come here to be interrogated." So I didn't get a lot of traction there, but I may have set a few minds to thinking and it was a learning experience.

Their chapter house is beautiful. Someone mentioned that it is out in the middle of nowhere, but if that's nowhere then I don't think we should be working so hard to live somewhere. A spring rain had started by the time we left the conference. As my carpool dropped me off at my apartment, I was wound up and overly warm, and the light shower was delicious, so I donned my hat and overcoat and embarked on a walk. I stopped by the nearest community garden to observe it drinking in the rain, and then I decided to heed some recent advice from a friend and take a stroll through the cemetary, which is still in bloom. The Earth smells so wonderful during and after a rainfall. In the evening, I thought about writing, but it was dark, so I procrastinated and watched a movie, instead.

Another spoke of my attack strategy is to push as hard as I can on the US government for action, so on Sunday, after a lovely brunch with that same friend at Algebra Tea (a true Cleveland gem), I volunteered for a political campaign for the first time. Under a mottled but sunny sky, I met with another volunteer who oriented us, and then I went canvassing for Jennifer Brunner. It certainly does not escape my notice that there exists some deep tension between my religious and political affiliations. I reflected on that with every door I approached. Nothing is ever easy, and that has never been more true.

The majority of the people I canvassed are voting for Fisher, which is somewhat disheartening. I did have a few very good discussions, though. I was about three-quarters of the way through my first route, when I appeared at the house of a very sharp lady who is pointedly aware of our resource problems. As she grilled me about Jennifer, Cleveland was preparing to unleash a storm on us. When the rain gave in to gravity, my new friend thankfully invited me to sit it out on her porch, where we continued our conversation. The rain became a downpour, and was joined by some awesome lightning. I shouted with laughter at each thundrous report.

Running late, I imposed on my new friend to drive me to my next stop. It was very kind of her to help me. Back to my strategy of working within the Church, I had a meeting with a friend and fellow parishoner to conduct an interview—using the Appreciative Inquiry approach—about the good things that he has experienced in his life in the parish. One thing that really stood out to me was his experience of an “expectation that calls you to step up” from the parish, which I strongly agree should be a very potent tool that the Church brings to bear. After that interview, I had another interview with another friend from the parish. The goal of these interviews is to provide direction for the parish based upon its existing strengths. It should be clear how I want to see the parish develop.

Happily, the weekend ended with Mass, which was greatly rejuvenating. I was rather emotional all throughout the liturgy. I am glad that I was able to meet up with the choir (even though I was running quite late because of my second interview), because we sang two very beautiful pieces. It is always such a joy to be able to praise God as a team; even in the face of chaos and evil, God continues to provide us with refuge. It was still raining just a bit when a friend and fellow singer dropped me off at my apartment.

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