February 13, 2017
By:  Jane Bishop Halteman

Last week, as I prepared the room for our Visio Divina adult formation class, I spotted the angel image pictured above hanging on a central pillar in our space.  Though I had noticed her there before, I have no knowledge of her origin and had never stopped long enough to read the wisdom bites sprawled across her being:  “Listen to your life, dream bigger, unleash your joy, embrace vulnerability, love with abandon, get quiet/just be, rediscover your passion, nurture your soul, allow the blessings to sink in and stay awhile, surround yourself with good people, what is calling you?”

Whether she was handmade or store-bought, I do not know, but sitting with her for a while to ponder her wise suggestions seems like it could be a promising exercise.  She remained in our midst yesterday as participants considered their Divine invitations while we prayed with  Fra Angelico’s fresco of the annunciation at the Convent of San Marco in Florence, Italy.   

Even as several in the class are presently involved in packing up their belongings to move closer to others in the KRMC community, the current plight of our country’s immigrants, and their fear of being dislocated against their will, is not far from our minds.  Perhaps we have read Mennonite Central Committee’s (MCC) recent statement on immigration and refugees or are involved in South Bend with folks who have reason to fear the kind of raids my Facebook friend Mike speaks of having witnessed this past weekend in Austin:  “Over the past few days in Austin there have been ICE raids all over town, some in neighborhoods where friends of mine live. Helicopters have been circling overhead all night, keeping people awake. Federal agents are dragging people out of their homes, away from their children. They are getting violent with people. They are setting up traffic checkpoints and pulling over random brown people. Children are being sent home from school with notes in their backpacks with instructions on what to do if the government has taken away their parents while they were gone. School kids are frightened for their families, for their friends, for themselves. People are terrified and feeling helpless. Because. Of. Our. Government.”

Sue, another Facebook friend and former KRMCer who recently moved to Atlanta, posted this as introduction to a poem entitled Home by Kenyan-born Somali poet Warsan Shire:  “The powerful poem here expresses the stories of refugees I met in Kosovo, Kansas City, Minneapolis, South Bend, and now the greater Atlanta area. What circumstances could you possibly imagine would propel you to leave your homeland?”

As we mull over ways we at Kern Road might make ourselves and our resources available to those who need our assistance, may we recall these words from the poem: “You only leave home when home won’t let you stay.” Our congregation’s Immigration and Global Partnership committees are looking to establish a substantial, above-budget immigrant and refugee fund, which they will get off the ground with a potluck fundraiser Sunday, February 26.  These committees invite us to come with a “generous spirit and ethnic dishes” to share.

How do we best prepare ourselves for the new challenges ahead?  A Sojourners article by Lindsey Paris-Lopez says that “the Sermon on the Mount catches us in the current of our cultural violence and turns us around first by drawing our attention to the victims swept under the wave of human violence.”  She indicates that “now is the time for a robust theology of resistance” and offers this question for consideration: “How are the poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, the ones who hunger and thirst for justice, blessed? Jesus blessed the people on the margins of his culture by embracing them, showing solidarity with them, building a community in which those who had always been shunned were welcomed and loved. As the body of Christ, we are called to be that blessing.” 

As we prepare for the work of welcoming the other (or another task toward which we may be feeling nudged), I trust we will take to heart Pastor Janice's reminder that “the Spirit gives us a kind of resilience” for what lies before us.  Find details here about a South Bend informational meeting regarding immigration rights and concerns from 5-7 p.m. Friday, February 17, at Harrison Primary Center. 

When we need breaks from writing and calling and resisting and marching and monitoring and fund raising, we might take delight in positive, simple, soul-nourishing narratives like these:  this forgiveness story which appeared on the CBS Evening News, this One Green Planet piece about a rescued cow basking in the sun with a human friend, and this example of a delightful new quilting apparatus created by a personal friend’s mother and brother.  

And we might all benefit from taking the time to consider our angel advisor's recommendations at the start of this post: “Listen to your life, dream bigger, unleash your joy, embrace vulnerability, love with abandon, get quiet/just be, rediscover your passion, nurture your soul, allow the blessings to sink in and stay awhile, surround yourself with good people, what is calling you?”

One of the mini ways I nurture my soul each day is by snapping a photo to live into the mindfulness prompt #100happydays.  These are the first nine photos I created of people, places, experiences that took me to a happy, grateful place in February.  How do you nurture your soul when you are called to love with more abandon than ever?  

The first nine days of my #100happydays photos:  

categories are not surprising (family, food, nature, with hygge binding them together at the center)