Nice and neat,
Goes the suit,
Here I AM,
Imperfect but proud,
Wearing the unwillingness of the serpent,
I radiate resistance,
Through a smile which belies the truth.
Or am I?
Is it the unacceptance of others,
My misunderstood life?
Which makes them feel I am the unteam player.
Whispers off stage … “Which I am.”
The world of this dark cloud speaks feelings normally saved for an analyst’s couch.
The sadness is overwhelming,
And time seems to be still as the dead air which surrounds,
This almost broken heart.
The voice from the peanut gallery shouts,
“Every cloud has a silver lining”
Written by Pollyanna on an optimistic day,
My heart thuds with a hard landing response.
Sparks of anger fizzle out,
As I move back into the darkness.
As I do.
Until a veil is lifted,
From these scaly eyes,
Revealing a silent presence from within.
Which is with me always*.
What was I thinking?
How can I feel this so deeply?
Aren’t we supposed to ration love?
Only to give it to those really close?
So they can know I love them more?
Love is unlimited.
There is no limit.
To the amount.
Who to give it to.
And how I feel about it.
So, worry not about soulmates.
Even if there to many,
And you find yourself in love with …
Well. Everyone to some extent.
And some who cannot do anything but give.
Because it is The Way.
Love does not need an agenda,
A reason even.
For we are all immersed in an ocean of love,
If only we try to stop swimming ashore,
And trust in outcomes.
For we cannot drown in a sea of love.
We will only feel its warmth and connectedness.
For a lifetime lived:
Dutifully (to us, not me)
Always facing me
The first washing of the day, before my shower;
Is a tentative wash, knowing more water will be flowing shortly,
Over gray hair, body and a general waking up.
Here, hands are the tool, not the target.
Then later, not just before and after meals,
Comes the real handwashing.
Sanjay tells us how to wash like a surgeon,
To do the front and the backs,
As a child needs instruction for teeth.
We never knew how to really wash them.
Then, handwashing, proper handwashing that is, needs patience.
Not here the symbolism of Pilate,
Or its many metaphors.
But a real handwashing,
Like our hands are clean.
Devoid of germs,
Ready to touch something,
If only disposable gloves,
We are ready to … keep our distance.
This washing is personal,
We only wash our child’s hands,
Not each others,
And yet …
This timed wash of two birthday songs,
Or One Our Father,
Is a member of an orchestra,
One playing a song of safety,
A willingness of a heart.
This song is devoid of color, country or creed.
A song which all humanity plays,
Every time a faucet is turned,
So begins a melody of holiness and care.
Unearthly, yet real and earthly.
Separation dissipating in a moment,
Forever gone, never to return.
Not love in a word,
Experienced, not defined or confined;
In a womb,
Nourished with a permanent repleteness;
Eternal and unified.
Finally, I am consubstantial.
Servant Leadership: Why we need it now more than ever.
As I pen these words, we are either in the beginning or middle of what is known as the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. This morning, like several recently, I awoke thinking of some visits needed to important people, cousins in Ireland, connecting with my wife, currently stranded in Massachusetts, my grandchildren, and family in the UK. Within moments of course, I realized that this is not possible. As we are now in a “Stay at Home” order in the state of California, and I remain, with a few essential workers and the Passionist priests behind a locked gate. A gate that protects us from others and others from us.
Usually, we wake in the morning from a dream and then step into reality. Today it felt like the reality was a movie and the dreams were normality. I say this not to complain, but merely to observe the times and challenges we face. Perhaps the most important aspect of this is a call to leadership. A call to be selfless, to be there for others, to separate ourselves from others, and yet still find ways we can support those in need. Their needs have just become more acute because of the crisis. This remembering of a call brought me to a topic which has been much on the lips of many in this situation, the call of a leadership style called Servant Leadership. What is that, and how does that relate to me?
Responding To Christ
“and whoever wants to rank first among you must serve the needs of all.” (Mt. 20:27)
At times like this we have a tendency to surround the wagons, protect those close to us, and in a way, become selfish. So much about our situation today is antheical to a normal response, we cannot gather in the normal way, but we can communicate. We cannot share in a traditional manner, breaking bread together at the table, even receiving the Eucharist has become a visual event, not a physical one.
Yet, we must remember that grace flows from the within as well as from the traditional sources we hunger. God is within us, His grace is there waiting to be tapped into. To be exported to those who need it. In words, prayer and actions.
Servant leadership gives us a clue of how we align our response. We receive love by giving love. We gain happiness by sharing with others. We only truly receive by giving.
Let us remember the call in Matthew 20:27, we can only receive by serving others. If you want to examine yourself, Jesuit style, take a look at the ten principles of Servant Leadership as practiced today, and check out how you are using them in this crisis.
The Ten Principles Of Servant Leadership
• Commitment to Growth
• Building Community
Reflection, Poem and Photograph Copyright 2020 by Michael J. Cunningham OFS