With apologies to my vegetarian friends, I begin with a quote from a wise woman, a Unitarian Universalist physician, who told me thirty years ago that the key to life was to chew up the meat and spit out the bones. Take in what nourishes you, she advised, and spit out what chokes you.
This is, of course, another form of the “baby and the bathwater,” the question of discernment and decision making. All too often, we are not very good at it. We take one bad experience, with the Roman church or the Boston Red Sox or Indian food, and globalize it. To be fair, it might be okay to globalize the Red Sox as evil...
Take Cursillo. Developed in Spain by the same Roman church that backed Franco's brutal assault on freedom and democracy, it is, nonetheless, a powerful spiritual movement that has been used and adapted by other traditions. It introduces participants to three pillars, piety, study, and action, then creates a community structure of accountability and celebration to make the practice sustainable. The result is results, intimacy and changed lives and a powerful relationship with the holy, both transcendent and embodied.
This particular form of community may not suit us. Or maybe it will. Maybe we organize our activism and advocacy around Saul Alinsky's masterwork “Rules for Radicals.” Or Peter Block's challenging and powerful work “Community: The Structure of Belonging.” There are so many resources to help us turn our good intentions into measurable results, if that is what we want, that can help us move from compassion to capacity.
Back to Cursillo... to piety (heart), study (head), and action (hands)... We tend to be good at one of these, maybe two, rarely all three. As our Lenten journey draws to a close and we prepare to celebrate Easter, I encourage you to take some time, to engage all three, and to experience a sense of Spirit and renewal.