Since reading John Neafsey’s book (Act Justly, Love Tenderly: Lifelong Lessons in Conscience and Calling, Orbis, 2016), I have been doing a lot of thinking about what I’m being called to at this stage of my life. American writer Howard Thurman tells us, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” If I look at all that the world needs, I am overwhelmed. I am paralyzed when I think about “fixing” the world’s problems or even contributing to any solutions. If I am going to contribute in any meaningful way, I have to choose an issue that touches my heart.
I started by making a list of issues that I might possibly focus on. Although I realize that something has to be done to address all these issues, my gifts do not lie in all these areas. In no particular order: poverty, abortion, racism, sexism, the opioid crisis, ageism, health care, human trafficking, immigration, destruction of the environment, nuclear war, war of any kind, homelessness, public schools and higher education.
Many of these issues are interrelated, but I needed to narrow the list a bit. I was not yet ready to choose just one issue, and let the others go. When I asked myself, “Which issues touch my heart?”, I chose four from the list and added one more:
- Destruction of the environment
- Immigration, refugees, and homelessness
- Latin America
“If I want to make a difference in any of these areas, where do I start?”
- Reading about the issues
- Defining the issues for the United States and the world
- Writing about the issues on this blog
- Designing programs in adult faith development at my church
- Posting articles on the bulletin board and inserting articles in the weekly bulletin
Today, I decided to come at the question from a different direction. “What have I been reading in the last year? Which books have touched my heart? Which areas from my list do these books emphasize?” I started with the page on this blog called “My Favorites in 2017” and then included some from a list called “Books That Have Had an Impact”, which I created a couple months ago.
Based on what I have been reading, there are four areas about which I care very much. In Thurman’s words, they “make me come alive.”
- Poverty – redefined as justice and compassion
- Destruction of the environment – redefined as ecological spirituality
- Latin America
- Feminist spirituality
I have not read very much about immigration, refugees, and homelessness, but these topics also touch my heart.
“Why am I sharing these reflections in this public forum?” I want to hold myself accountable for following up and taking action to contribute to the solution to one or more of the world’s problems. Look for these topics as “categories” of future posts.