by Chris Koellhoffer, IHM March 13, 2022
What is the value of safe harbor unless we share it? That’s what I was wondering as I worked in my apartment office. This space also functions as a sun room, its five spacious windows flooded by sunshine from dawn to dusk. But the real magic unfolds in the afternoon. When the sun shifts and blankets with warmth my plant neighbors who share this room, I can almost see photosynthesis springing into action. I can almost hear sighs of comfort and thanks breathed by this sentient tribe of cyclamen, violets, succulents, pothos, infant basil, and narcissus bulbs. A riot of purple, fuschsia, and deep red blossoms tilt their heads in response to the sun’s kiss. A profusion of green and emerald leaves signals contentment.
What is the value of safe harbor unless we share it? That’s the question I’ve been carrying around since the first excruciating images of human anguish and Earth’s devastation were beamed into my living room from suffering Ukraine. That’s the question that haunted me when I went into Lowe’s a few days later. There, in a center aisle, stood a rack littered with half dead, dried out, post-Christmas plants, 90% off. Many were beyond saving. Some clutched a green leaf or two. I did what I could, rescued a crippled amaryllis and a few shriveled aloe vera, carried them tenderly home, performed triage on their wounds, and welcomed them into my tribe.
All the while, I was mindful of train stations jammed with fathers hugging their families good-bye; mothers wiping tears from exhausted faces; toddlers clutching stuffed animals alongside buildings bombed into ruin. I was mindful of the safe harbor in which I live, and wondering what more I could do besides offer safety and shelter to a few neglected and abandoned plants. True, every act of human kindness, no matter how seemingly small, extends the field of loving presence out into the Universe. But with the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, I’m feeling so deeply my inability to save others. It seems that Elie Wiesel, himself a survivor of another atrocity, the Holocaust, understands that inability when he writes, “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”
Now is the time to protest, to choose the way of peace and the works of justice. To do what we can, committing acts of defiant hope in the face of monstrous cruelty. To accompany the Holy One as the Holy One suffers in the crucified people of Ukraine. To pause throughout the day, breathing the energies of compassion, creating a protective shield around the mass of terrified, weary, but courageous refugees making their way out of their beloved homeland. To donate to collections of funds for food and supplies. To arm ourselves with letters and phone calls to protest every egregious violation of human rights. To further the inspiration of the global community as it opens wide in welcome both borders and hugs for refugees. To engage in radical acts of beauty and of hope. To come together to light a virtual candle for peace, setting an intention, sharing a dedication, collectively illuminating the darkness.
It’s true, Elie Wiesel tells us, that sometimes we may be powerless to prevent injustice. But always, he insists, we must not fail to protest. I wonder, what form might my protest, your protest, take today? What safe harbor will we share from our corner of the world?
Sit in stillness with the Holy One. Open your heart to the suffering people of our world. Listen to what they are asking of you. When you have finished listening, open your arms in a gesture of welcome, and bow in reverence.
Featured image: Di Maitland, Unsplash
Please hold in your prayer my congregation, the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Scranton), as we come together March 22-27 for our Chapter (a governance gathering held every four years). We will be praying for you and the needs of our world as you remember us. Thank you!
To automatically subscribe to receive new posts from Mining the Now:
Go to the Home Page of Mining the Now (chriskoellhofferihm.org) In the left-hand column above the section marked “Archives,” you’ll see the words, “Subscribe to blog via email.”
Enter your email address in the space provided and then click on “Subscribe” and follow any prompts. You’ll then be subscribed to automatically receive any future blog posts from Mining the Now.
Thank you for following!