As we build the Beloved Community, we pray for you every day that you might continue to bring it about in your little corner of the world.
Today's Meditation features a reflection by Joyce Rupp: "Most People are Pretty Decent."
We invite you to join us as we commit ourselves to working tirelessly to end systemic and structural racism in our society, in the church, in healthcare, in the workplace--wherever it shows up so that everyone may come to have more abundant life. May this meditation nourish our contemplative-active hearts and sustain all of us in action.
In the spirit of our philosophy of co-creating community and our awareness that the Spirit speaks through each of us, we invite you to share your meditations with us as well. We truly believe that it is God's economy of abundance: when we share our blessings, our thoughts, our feelings, we are all made richer.
We hope and pray that you find peace, healing, hope and the infusion of joy in your life!
With our love and care,
Ron and Jean
MEDITATION: Joyce Rupp:
Reflection - March 2023
This past Christmas I received the book, Humankind by Dutch author, Rutger Bregman. I’ve been intrigued and encouraged by his extensive research to prove the book’s major thesis which he refers to as a radical idea: “Most people, deep down, are pretty decent.” Bregman presents dozens of true stories to demonstrate how we humans are “hardwired for kindness and cooperation.” With all the attention paid to sin and repentance that comes with Lent, I recently discovered how easy it is to slip into old teachings of “human nature being basically corrupted,” rather than human nature as essentially oriented toward good.
I slipped into that negative view of not being trustworthy of humanity’s goodness a week ago. I drove to a walking trail where I’ve felt quite safe in the past. As I parked, I noticed a man of another ethnicity smoking a cigarette, walking around a car, looking at it quite intently. Immediately I thought, “Is he getting ready to steal it?” Now, why didn’t I think, “He’s waiting for a friend,” or “His car must have broken down and he’s needing assistance.” But no, I thought the worst instead of the best. The man was not a thief, the car was not stolen, and I was left to chide myself for making negative judgments.
Bregman doesn’t discount the horrific deeds and evil acts committed by humans but he points to the percentage of these in relation to the good that people do. Yet, those positive gestures receive much less attention by the public. Last week Bregman’s theory was reinforced when I read in Cameron Trimble’s Searching for the Sacred about the remarkable generosity the residents of Gander, Newfoundland poured forth immediately after some of the 4,000 international flights of 2001 were forced to land in their small town of less than 7,000. Among countless acts of kindness, the people offered blankets from their homes to keep the visitors warm. Most of these were handmade quilts, “heirlooms inherited over generations or created for future ones.” When the flights were ready to depart, the people of Gander urged their departing guests to “keep the quilts as a remembrance of their meeting and a sign of their care.”
The essence of human kindness is everywhere. In January, a friend of mine, certainly not thinking of the Gander event, walked away from a cemetery memorial and noticed a man collapsed on the ground near another burial site. She saw someone cover him with a suit coat so she hurriedly pulled out a picnic quilt from her car, ran over and draped it on the collapsed man. Kathy wrote: “It was painfully cold. I could see someone had started chest compressions. There were so many people instrumental in creating that quilt. Fabric scraps from a daycare provider who became a family friend. Our entire family tied that quilt together. It had seen our family through a lot of picnics, forts, and other family events. I'm sure later, the man’s family will wonder where the quilt came from. Hopefully it will give them some peace to know that a random stranger cared.”
And then, there was the man volunteering at a devasting area of the Turkey/Syria earthquake who responded to a journalist’s question “Why are you here?” He simply replied, “Because we are all part of humanity. We care about what happens to others.”
So, Rutger Bregman, thank you. I’m trusting your valuable research and theory to guide my thoughts, words, and deeds through and far beyond this Lenten season.
On Wednesday Evenings during Lent, we will meet from 7-8PM on Zoom using the poetry of Wendell Berry to reflect on Lenten themes.
On Wednesday March 15, at 7:00 PM on ZOOM, Fr. Yaroslav Nalysnyk, Pastor of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Jamaica Plain will speak to the community on the War In Ukraine. We have been channeling our donations to the People of Ukraine through him.