Years ago in junior high science class, I recall being puzzled by the fact that all things are in constant motion. Tending toward the literal, I wondered why my desk wasn’t moving. It was hard to visualize electrons spinning in atoms while the desk seemed to be perpetually still. While I understand gravitational and electromagnetic forces a bit more now, the mystery remains unresolved (and unpursued) in my mind.
Any stability in this past year was truly an optical illusion! Though the pandemic seemed to grind everything to a standstill, the fear and suffering that followed stirred deep feelings of sorrow in each of us. The empty highways and airways gave a respite to global warming, but there were few other quantifiable benefits to the months of shutdown.
At the Conference, we, too, found ourselves struggling to adapt to rapid change in the spring and summer of 2020. We quickly transitioned work to our homes and meetings and programs to the online Zoom platform.
Faced with a choice between shutdown and adaptation, we opted for the latter in service to our members and in service to religious life.
These days, as the yellow-green of new spring leaves continue to color our formerly dull vistas, we begin to ask ourselves what new life might look like. How will we be transformed by the many months of individual, communal, and societal suffering? What does it mean to roll away the stone of the tomb?
The changes we face as a Conference staff, and the changes that our members face in their communities, are a microcosm of those of the larger global society. Our upcoming office move and staff changes, while significant and impactful to us, need to be seen in perspective with the massive changes in our world. We are called to let go of old assumptions, to be nimble with change, and to be creative unto infinity. And in the midst of constant motion, we seek the still point, so eloquently penned by T.S. Eliot: At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless; Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is, But neither arrest nor movement.
And do not call it fixity, Where past and future are gathered.
Neither movement from nor towards, Neither ascent nor decline.
Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
– T.S. Eliot
In what ways did the Conference work to cultivate communities of faith and resilience in 2020? As our Annual Report demonstrates, the RFC stood boldly at the forefront of nurturing spaces for those in religious life to come together to discern the unfolding path before them. I invite you to click on the attachment below and take a peek at what we were able to do together in 2020.
In the spirit of faith and resilience,
Ellen Dauwer, SC