Tuesday, November 16, 2004

formation of a Cooperator

I am fresh off the annual Pauline Cooperators Convention, this year held at St. Thecla's outside of Boston. It was an excellent weekend. Now I am back at UD and in the dumps. Peeved also. I got exactly one evening of peace, Sunday evening when I returned. By Monday I was aggravated again.

Here it is. I talked to Sr. Kathryn James and she is going to snail mail me the complete Donec Formetur exercises. Then I am going to start over again, and try to make the retreat in a consistent manner, rather than the fits and starts I did before.

I remember now where those fits and starts come from. I get too peeved and irritated by political discord. I am tired and increasingly impatient with what I perceive as being nagged and picked on by people who think President Bush is evil. This includes most if not all of my Wednesday reading group, comprised mostly of University colleagues.

What to do? I received another irritating email blaming those who voted for Bush for evils allegedly perpetrated by his administration. I started doing some research to see if the alleged evil mentioned in the note was something that I too would agree was evil. If it was, then yes, I'd support efforts to stop it. In this case I didn't have to go too far, because the alleged evil had been "put on hold" for the time being. Meanwhile, I asked the Green Delaware group who originated the email to refrain from pointing the finger at citizens who voted for Bush, blaming them specifically for this alleged evil and more to come. I said that I had voted for Bush and that I was interested in finding common ground with Kerry voters on issues that I too supported Kerry on, and working for solutions that all could agree on. That, I said, would move things forward in the country. The head of Green Delaware replied that moving forward meant assuming responsibility for the evils caused by a vote for Bush.

Well, I argued with him a little but realized I had way overestimated my ability to hold civil discourse with people who think Bush an evil man. I didn't know the GD guy but I do know, and have a relationship with, the woman in my book group (a friend) who sent me the original note.
I asked her if she sent the original note because she wanted my help on an issue or because she wanted me to receive the GD guy's message that I and other Bush voters were to blame. She replied, "Rae, I was confident you would want to do whatever possible to confront and help
contribute solution (through the petition) to this seriously problematic study that has everything to do with how children are considered and treated by this Administration."

So in other words, a bit of both.

I don't think I am in any way suited at the moment to collaborate on social and political issues with those who hate Bush. I may never be suited to do so. I know that in areas like, for example, Catholic and Jewish dialogue, people of good will on both sides spend years working out carefully nuanced expression of agreement, where agreement can be found. Perhaps it is imprudent and hubris-y of me to try to find common ground with self-proclaimed Bush-haters. Fr. Alberione says that as you begin the purgative way, whose special end is to live as an upright person, you should seek to spend time with "companions"-- com pané, "with bread", people whom you feel able to break bread with. I don't think I can make a serious effort at the purgative way, let alone the illuminative and whatever the other one is, if I am spending energy trying not to get mad at brick-a-bats thrown my way by those who don't like the way I voted in the election. Maybe I need to go cold turkey, quit the book group, accept the coldness and lessening of affection that will come from that, and take as much "flight from the world to the school of the Divine Master" as I can. Novices and postulants get time "away from" the daily fray while they are undergoing formation. Why not me?

3 comments:

Gordon said...

"If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first." (Jn 15:18)

Rae said...

Thanks, I needed that!

It's amazing how much resonance that quote has for me at the moment. It jumps out at me like never before. It has made me uneasy in the past, this talk of hatred from Christ. But sigh. Hatred does exist, and closer than we think.

Rae said...

Thanks, I needed that!

It's amazing how much resonance that quote has for me at the moment. It jumps out at me like never before. It has made me uneasy in the past, this talk of hatred from Christ. But sigh. Hatred does exist, and closer than we think.