A Climate of Hospitality

We are called to set tables at which natural enemies gather. At these tables we make room for conversations that are off limits and often taboo in others contexts. We make room for “the least of these,” and give them preferred seating. We explore theological and ministry perspectives that sometimes seem subversive to the status quo. Most importantly, we help create a climate of hospitality. We play the role of host. We make room for all voices to be heard, even and most especially the ones that are hardest to hear. Such tables can and do get lively, even messy. This is our work. We do not shy away from issues, because these are not “issues” for us. They are flesh and blood relationships with real people whom we love very much.

THINK: Wealth Disparity in the U.S.

Yesterday, people were sharing all kinds of great resources on the Cortina Facebook group, so I thought we might put them on the blog for the world to see.

Check out this great video about the mis-perceptions we have about wealth inequality in our country. It lays out the the real numbers, the ideal numbers, and the perceived numbers to compare them with some great visual representations. (Chuch shared this one!)

Here is an interactive map of income and rent for every neighborhood in the U.S. (Elizabeth shared this one!)

What does this mean for us? How can we be more aware of the reality in order to think more creatively about solutions?

Monday Meditation: A Letter to My Heart

(This is the letter Madi read to us during community time last night)

Dear Heart,

Hi, how are ya? Sorry you might have been a little neglected lately, but I have really missed you. The big man upstairs sometimes likes to steal the show, and your patience always amazes me. Let’s catch up shall we?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the future lately. Where I’m going, who I’ll be, who I’ll meet. It’s all really exciting, and really terrifying. What if I don’t end up where I want to go? Who will be there to catch me if I fall and I’m far from home? What happens if I change my mind or worse, you change? My dear heart, I’m trying to follow the path you lead me, but there is so much confusion in the way. I don’t want to disappoint, but sometimes what you yearn for is not what is expected of me. I’m a little scared, but I trust you.

Lovely heart, I see you beating in everyone around me. When I stop looking to the future for a moment, I see the people I am with. You beat in harmony with the people of my everyday. It’s a beautiful song when I stop long enough to hear it. And the moments when I’m really still? The times when I silence the chattering in my mind and the flurries in my stomach? Those are the moments I hear the whole symphony. I can hear the beats of the hearts in far away lands that yearn for things I yearn. I hear their humanity, I feel their pulse. It radiates through me. I feel alive in these moments, yet they are so few. Knowing this feeling though, I will never stop searching for it. I may lose sight. The eyes that blind me to real truths claim they are reality. I will question them. I will challenge the “real” and search for the true. I will do this all for you. So that you may link up to the beautiful hum of life, and flourish in every second of every day. You will be heard.

Finally heart, sometimes I look to the past. I try to recreate the melody that once was and feel saddened when I know it will never return. There have been one too many verses so that I can hardly remember the opening chords. But, in looking back, something magical happens. I see how different melodies were weaved into mine in such perfect harmony that I didn’t even notice their existence. With your help, sweet heart, let me hear those songs. Let me revel in the majesty that is the world’s inner workings. Open my ears to this wondrous work of art so that I may appreciate it in all it’s intricacies. This is my promise to you: I will no longer repress your beat and I will take time to hear the reverberations around me. I will let the music be made.

Monday Meditation: On Bad Language

Yesterday’s community time focused on what we called “Just Language” or, language that does justice. The following excerpt talks about the possible harm that comes from “bad” or unjust language. Stay tuned for next week’s exploration of what might constitute good language.

“The question I’d like to bring to language, my own and everyone else’s, is the question of reductionism. Reductionism reigns when the words we use to give an account of people and events serve only to reduce, degrade, and devalue human beings in the interest of managing them, mischaracterizing our relationships with others to make them mean whatever we need them to mean to maintain our fragile ego structures. This is the perversity we employ–perhaps it employs us–when we reduce a person to a “just” (“so-and-so is just…”) or a “nothing but” (“you’re nothing but a …”), as if we’ve gotten to the bottom of all they are and ever will be.

Eye-rubbingly broad generalizations are leveled in our talk of other countries, personal histories, and the petty mortal who just cut us off in the flow of rush-hour traffic. These are the death sentences that generate a sort of verbal totalitarianism, closing up and cutting off real-live people. The words that fail to do justice to the irreducible complexity of whatever it is we think we’re talking about. It’s what we call bad language. Cursing words. The speech is dirty, if you like, because it deals in pseudo-reality, dimming an awareness of where we live, what we’re doing, and what we’re taking. It demeans and disfigures with a feeling of control as it takes a turn for the  contemptuous, DIS-membering experience in the telling.”
-David Dark, The Sacredness of Questioning Everything (“Questioning our Language”)

In what ways do you reduce people with your language–intentionally or unintentionally? Where is more complexity needed in your conception of and speech about a person, group of people, or an event? How can you re-member instead of “dis-member” with your speech?

Monday Meditation: On Perception

Yesterday our community talked about “Reality” in our community meeting. Since our perception is intimately tied to our realities, it is important to enter into other’s perceptions so as to enter into their realities. Below is a video of an artist who is attempting to challenge perceptions.

How can you challenge your own perceptions? Whose reality is it hardest for you to understand?  What perspectives do you have that block your understanding of that person’s reality? Are there ways to hold your perceptions at bay while still acknowledging them?