Recently, I read two sources of inspiration for me: a small quotation about our need “to be and to be with” one another because we are part of one another’s journey and of each other’s becoming! The other was from The Gospel Without Compromise, a 1989 publication, now out of print, but written by Catherine de Hueck Doherty, foundress of Madonna House in Combermere, Ontario. What she wrote in 1989 seems even more problematic in 2019! Would you agree that “People today are crying out for recognition. Each of us wants to be a person among other persons. We want to be noticed, not in any ostentatious way, not because we might have or not have money or any other possession or quality, but just because we are human beings, persons”? She goes on to write: “Each of us is on a pilgrimage, seeking to encounter others like ourselves, others who have the same needs. The greatest need of all is the need to be loved. But we pass by one another without noticing, without stopping, without the slightest sign of recognition. This is why modern man (ibid.) daily comes closer and closer to despair, and why he frantically continues to search for someone who will love him. The search is really for God. But God isn’t easily found if he isn’t reflected in the eyes of another person.”1989? 2019?
Others speak of developing “an attitude of gratitude” to help us become vulnerable, to urge us to both be and see the beautiful in ourselves and in one another. We don’t have to be wired to negativity. We don’t have to look at ugly things when there are all these beautiful ones: a child’s face, a peony, an oriole, a tree, water, wine and bread! All of these, and ourselves, are worthy of love and belonging, of being called by name! Why do we pretend that what we do and say doesn’t affect others?
Reverence, understanding and hospitality of the heart—these are the immediate and intense needs of people today. Catherine Doherty suggests we might think of “the other” as someone looking for someone to say: “My brother, my sister, I am here. Come. I have water and a towel. Sit down. Let me wash your tired feet that have pilgrimaged for so long. Yes, I am here. I know you. I revere you. I recognize you as my brother or sister. I love you.”
We do need “to be and to be with one another” because we are part of one another’s journey and of each other’s becoming.
Renée Domeier, OSB