Saturday, November 05, 2005

Clairity Witnesses Compassion in Action over at Cahiers Peguy

How do we end the isolation? How can we shatter the alone-ness? It envelops us like mist on an Autumn morning. It's pernicious solitarity shreds our ties of community with one another. Then, someone in the world needs us. And we can't answer them. We suffocate under the individualism we must project, for we are alone in our minds and hearts.

Clairity confronts this malaise. Read her reflection here.

I'm particulary struck by this:
When approaching the question of charity, especially for those of us who have what we need and more, it is easy to feel anemic. The needs are in such disproportion to our abilities, that we can become overwhelmed. We are bombarded with requests for everything from supporting the public radio station to helping the local animal shelter. One disaster occurs after another on a scale of devastation beyond our comprehension. Our response is as scattered as we ourselves have become, to write a check here or there and hope it all goes away. It has been suggested by some that an individual or family choose a charity to get behind rather than responding piecemeal. Another approach is to support a smaller charity without a large supportive base but which may be particularly worthy, after the principle of subsidiarity.

Still, something must happen to release the person from this burden of smallness in front of such problems to be free to act in one's own capacity and from one's own place. Fr. Julian Carron addressed this "I" who initiates a work in a meeting of the Company of Works.

Fr. Carron observes that in our society, this person is "so fragmented, so debilitated, that it is more and more difficult to find this human energy that constitutes it actually at work." An initiative takes an "I", a person with the full awareness of the meaning of his life that allows him to risk a work and commit himself to the task.

The problem is that this need for wholeness is no longer aroused, and people try to transmit partial bits of knowledge, which fail to arouse interest, because they have nothing to do with that need. If the student doesn’t see the relationship, the link, between a partial knowledge and his “I”’s need for wholeness, he can have no interest in it. To speak of this need for wholeness is not therefore an abstraction, because without this there is no reason for interest in details; without this link between the details and the need of my “I,” nothing interests me. Today, since there is no desire to give an answer to this need for wholeness, the “I” does not emerge. This is the problem today. No one wants to abandon a partial neutrality–otherwise he would have to overcome that neutrality himself, when faced by something that drives him beyond–and this blocks the “I;” it prevents the emergence of his need for wholeness.

There is nothing more humbling for me as an American than to hear of some Ugandan women from the slums of Kampala who have been breaking stones to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. But even more, this indicates another way to take part in an initiative, to start from an "I".
We hide from our need for wholeness because we're afraid to truly see how broken we've become. All of us face the Dramatic Tension of our lives when we confront the distance between who we are and who we ought to be. We find refuge in those shards of ourselves that most fulfill us. The trouble is we're never satisfied with this for long. We can't rest until we become whole and healed, as God intends us to be from the beginning.

When we dare to experience the pain of our own brokeness, we participate in the birthpains of the new creation. All the earth cries out for redemption and cries out in the process of redemption. We share in this suffering of all creation--and thus, in the God who identifies himself with his creation through his Son--when we live through our brokeness. We can do this when we see another's need as relevent to our own wholeness. Then, we can draw the strength, confidence and determination we need in order to engage that "I".

But we can't do this without him. His grace is sufficient for our weakness, so we place our trust in him. If we our to live through our brokeness in order to ignite the fire of our empathy, we need to live in union with him through prayer. For apart from him, we can do nothing.

The good news is hope is ours for the receiving. The choice to live in his presence is always open to us, so long as we walk this earth. If we're willing to confront our own isolation, seek deeper conversion of heart toward his own, and then act in solidarity with those who need us, we will discover just how whole--and how in communion with God and our brothers--we truly can be.