Monday Meditation: On Vulnerability

Life is full of little phases, phases we have to go through as we shape our character and find who we really are. This past semester has been an interesting journey in the process of finding who I was. I thought the answer was clear every morning when I looked at my self in the mirror. Yet I realized I was answering a different question. For the longest time I have being answering the question “Who I was taught to be”. I started my journey by questioning, questioning everything. I realized that I needed to find who I really was but do this by myself. This process takes courage and vulnerability.

But what does it really means to be vulnerable? Most people believe that vulnerability has a negative connotation. I have seen definitions from “capable of being physically or emotionally wounded” to “open to attack or damage.” Yet vulnerability goes far beyond that. It is a human characteristic that is not value as much anymore but is essential for personal growth. Being vulnerable is the ability to break open and let yourself be touch by the words of others. It is about letting our self-ego a side and with lots of humility understand where do others are coming from. Believe that we know what the right answer is and that we know what others are trying to say is one of human’s main limitations. This attitude prevents us from expanding our horizons and being able to be expose to someone else’s world. Being vulnerable is about finding our weaknesses and strengths and to be open to share those with others.  Vulnerability provides us with the hope of developing relationships, which will help us to shape our character and grow as individuals.

Be vulnerable. I encourage you to break open, to question life, to be change and to find who you really are. This is an ongoing process we have to take as individuals. Don’t be afraid to start the journey. It is a process that helps us to understand the world from a unique perspective. Your own perspective of life!

How would you characterize the “phase” you are currently in? How does your current phase fit in with the timeline of your life? Who were you taught to be? What is scary about questioning what you have been taught and who you have been taught to be? What does it mean to be vulnerable? With yourself? With others? With God? What are your weaknesses? What are your strengths? What is your “perspective” and where did that come from?

-Majo Sandi, Senior, Cortina Formation Co-Chair

Advocacy Alerts

Thanks so much to the Advocacy team in the CCSJ for these reminders.

Sierra Club
No More Deepwater Horizons
Three years ago, the Gulf experienced one of the worst environmental disasters in our nation’s history, when an explosion on BP’s Deep Water Horizon rig left an oil well gushing. The damage from that disaster will be felt in the Gulf region for years to come. But Big Oil hasn’t learned its lesson. Oil companies continue to push for dangerous, devastating drilling projects on our coasts and in our public lands. Last year, Shell Oil had to abandon plans to drill in America’s Arctic when its equipment continually failed. And just this month, an Exxon Mobil pipeline in Arkansas ruptured, releasing 157,000 of gallons of oil into a small community. Tell President Obama that we need to protect our communities, coasts, and public lands from dangerous oil drilling and spills!

Amnesty International
Urge President Obama: No more drones!
You’ve helped convince Congress to hold hearings on the Obama administration’s killer drones. Now take the next step and urge President Obama and Congress to follow Amnesty International’s 5 Point Plan for reforming the U.S. drone strike policy. Amnesty International is deeply concerned that the Obama administration’s so-called ‘targeted killing’ program allows for the use of lethal force, including with drones, that violates the right to life under international law.

Health Care Conscience Rights Act
The Obama Administration’s contraceptive/abortifacient/sterilization mandate will begin to be enforced against nonprofit religious schools, charities and health care providers on August 1. In the days to come, Congress must decide whether to address this problem through must-pass legislation before that deadline. Members of the House should be urged to include the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (H.R. 940) in the next bill needed to keep the federal government operating. Please send an email asking Congress to protect conscience rights and religious liberty.

Upcoming Events
Omaha Together One Community
On Monday, May 6th at 7pm, OTOC is hosting a Candidates Accountability Night. The event will take place at Pius X Church at 6905 Blondo Street, Omaha, Nebraska 68104. Candidates for Mayor and City Council will be there so that the community can be educated on where each candidate stands on important issues. For more information, go to OTOC’s website.

Film Streams
A Place at the Table runs Friday, May 3 through May 16th at Film Streams’ Ruth Sokolof Theater. The film discusses food injustice-specifically food insecurity. Fifty million people in the U.S.—one in four children—don’t know where their next meal is coming from, despite the fact that we have the means to provide nutritious, affordable food for all Americans. Directors Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush examine this issue through the lens of three people who are struggling with food insecurity. Their stories are interwoven with insights from experts-especially sociologists. A Place at the Table shows us how hunger poses serious economic, social and cultural implications for our nation, and that it can be solved once and for all. Yet, the solution will only come when the American public decides that making healthy food available and affordable is in the best interest of us all! For more information, or to watch the trailer, click here.

USCCB and Catholic Relief Services
On April 22, from 1-2pm EDT, Catholic Relief Services and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops are hosting an online Catholics Confront Global Poverty discussion called Promoting Human Life and Dignity in the Year of Faith: Why People Migrate. Join the online discussion for an opportunity to hear about the Church’s ongoing work to address the root causes of migration through programs and advocacy efforts that protect life and human dignity. You will also be able to ask questions and engage in dialogue regarding how Catholics in the US, through the Catholics Confront Global Poverty initiative, can make a difference for our brothers and sisters living in poverty.

Life in the Cortina Community

Students from current and past Cortina years reflect on what they learned in Cortina and why the experience was so meaningful for them.

Thanks to all who were interviewed and to to Nico Sandi and Emma Rasmussen for producing capturing the beauty of the interviewees and of the Cortina Community.

Monday Meditation: On Spring Break Sabbathing

People respond differently to the opportunity to take time off for Spring Break. Some love it. Some hate it. Some want to come back. Some want to stay away as long as possible. Whatever the case, taking a rest or a break from our normal productive activity create a situation in which we have to value ourselves differently–outside of our accomplishments.

Watch this video by The Work of the People to reflect on the role of Sabbathing in our lives:

Do you like to Sabbath? Where do you find your value as you rest or take breaks from your day to day activities? How can you plan in weekly Sabbathing as a reminder of who you are outside of what you do? How do you experience death and life during rest periods?

Monday Meditation: On Learning to Live

Although this time of the year is quite busy, frantic even, I think it is important to continue to think and reflect on life.

Life consists in learning to live on one’s own, spontaneous, freewheeling: to do this one must recognize what is one’s own—be familiar and at home with oneself. This means basically learning who one is, and learning what one has to offer to the contemporary world, and then learning how to make that offering valid.

–Thomas Merton in “Learning to Live”

Merton’s words offer a challenge to live differently than what one might consider normal. He encourages the reader to be spontaneous; to live with the guidelines for their existence only what resonates with his or her heart. What one should offer the world is a part of that existence. And in doing so, an authentic offering is made. He also makes a challenge for knowing oneself. In our world of constant expression and search for identity this can be difficult indeed. It’s uncomfortable to think about ourselves for very long. Our thoughts quickly turn to others, for we are relational beings. But I find something beautiful and captivating in the phrase “be familiar and at home with oneself.” Can we take some of the energy we spend in relating to others and use it instead in relating to ourselves, I wonder.

How have you become “at home” with yourself? Have you discovered what you can offer the world? What do you do to share your authentic self with the world?


Madi’s Thoughts on Community: It Depends on Us

Hi my name is Madi and I am a member of the Cortina community. Cortina. What is there to say about Cortina? It’s one of those things in life where words really don’t do justice to the meaning, entity, and experience that Cortina is. I hope that my short post here will sufficiently express the motivation of the program and give a brief insight into what Cortina means.

To me, the Cortina community is a place that I can go where I know that everyone around me is a feeling being. That might sound a bit wonky, but hear me out. These people feel in a way that is evident, present, vivacious, and extraordinary. The feelings flow freely, discourse is a constant, and opinions are made well known. There is little sense of apprehension and a great sense of trust. The community is a living, trustworthy, warm entity that is made up of all the wonderful people who have put themselves on the line to be accepted (or denied, always a possibility) by their peers. As with any situation in life, there is always fear that one/one’s ideas will be rejected, shot down, or dismissed; however, within the Cortina community I feel that fear is greatly diminished. The reason I feel that this is the case lies in the fact that everyone in the community is here with purpose, intention. Those intentions and purposes cover a large spectrum of things from being devoted to service, to learning more about their religious/spiritual life, to making new friends, to even living in an amazing dorm. But, no matter how different those intentions might be, nobody just happened into this community by chance. Everyone made a choice, a commitment to this community and THAT is what makes Cortina stand out. We are all committed, purposeful individuals who have banded together to share our passions, our struggles, our ideas, and to engage in life in a very different way.

I have learned lots about the people I live and thrive in this community with, but almost more importantly I have learned lots about myself. I have learned, through the help of my community, that it is ok to get excited about ethics. It’s ok to nerd out on the latest One Direction song. It’s ok to sing Spice Girls at 8am. It’s ok to talk about female genital mutilation in everyday conversation. It is MORE than ok to express my true emotions, have them challenged, and have them change. More than anything I have learned how to grow and accept and love even when it is difficult.

I have had a wonderful experience so far in Cortina and I know it can only continue to get better through the year. I hope that who ever reads this realizes that this is not a pitch for the community, it is not a fancy post I put together to attract any particular crowd. This is just my real experience and I wanted to share it with people who care to listen.

May you too be able to grow as a person, expand your mind, and create new friendships wherever you go. If you are looking for a place to do so at Creighton, Cortina is a great place to start. But if there is anything I have learned from living in a community, it is that community can be built wherever you want it to be built. It is not a place or physical structure. It is an understanding and love that resonates with the people involved. It is made and sustained by those who want it to exist. It depends on the individual. It depends on me. It depends on us.


Monday Meditation: On Authentic Selfhood

“Hold still, we’re going to do your portrait, so that you can begin looking like it right away.” -Helene Cixous

These words are chilling, and rightly so. The idea that we position ourselves to begin looking like a version of ourselves that someone else has determined is best  is no less than frightening. Cixous, a brilliant feminist theorist, meant for these words to scare. She isn’t into this version of self-creation.

Yesterday, in our meeting, I read this quote by Parker Palmer:

“We arrive in this world with birthright gifts–then we spend the first half of our lives abandoning them or letting mothers [or fathers] disabuse us of them. As young people, we are surrounded by expectations that may have little to do with who we really are, expectations held by people who are not trying to discern our selfhood but to fit us into slots. In families, schools, workplaces, and religious communities, we are trained away from true self toward images of acceptability; under social pressures like racism and sexism our original shape is deformed beyond recognition; and we ourselves, driven by fear, too often betray true self to gain the approval of others…Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic self-hood, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be. As we do so, we will not only find the joy that every human being seeks — we will also find our path of authentic service in the world. True vocation joins self and service, as Frederick Buechner asserts when he defines vocation as ‘the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.'”

In our meeting, Liz challenged us to think the of  “love” and “vocation” as intimately tied. Brother Pat challenged us to unplug and cut out those things that make it hard to hear the quiet voice calling us into full life.

We need to position ourselves in relationship to people, objects, events, studies, activities, and ideas that challenge us, but also that call us into our authentic self–not the self given to us by the the world that exists outside of us, and often only wants to use us.

Where do you see love in your life?  What in your life is “too loud”? Whose voice in your life is “too loud”?  Where do you feel the most joy and also the deepest service to the world? What is the picture that is being painted of you? Does the picture conform to the reality of the self that is trying to emerge from you? How can you best position yourself to discern your next steps, steps that bring life to you and to others?