by Sister Marianne Watts, OP “CHANGES”

The last Changes article mentioned Hope as the language spoken by certain holy people to bring Gospel love and compassion to our wilderness world. Hope also needs to be spoken in very small worlds, including those inhabited by Dominican Sisters of Hope. Our world, of course, is Asbury Tower.

In mid-February, we will have a conversation here at the Tower in preparation for the General Chapter of our Congregation (to take place in the Spring in Tarrytown, NY). The conversation will be about our Congregational Mission, which is to bring Hope to the world now and into the future. Into that conversation, and as full participants, we’ll welcome our Asbury Tower friends and neighbors as co-creators of that Mission.

To spell that out a little more, we, the Sisters who live here, will invite our neighbors to join us. Together we will wrestle with the questions and come up with the ideas that may bring the transformational power of Hope to this sad world of ours. At the very least, we think the gathering will awaken Hope in each of us. Can we help to create an environment of Hope, God’s Hope, that will move with us and through us wherever we go? And can we use, as raw material, who we are, just as we are?

Why not?

Father Richard Rohr says,

Try to realize that everything we really need is right here, right now. When we’re doing life right, it means nothing more than it is right now, because God is always in this moment in an accepting and non-blaming way. When we are able to experience that, taste it and enjoy it, we don’t need to hold on to it, nor are we afraid to let go of it. The next moment will have its own taste and enjoyment.

[Note: When Father Richard mentions “doing life right,” he does not mean being perfect or sinless. Absolutely not! He means trying to work things out according to our own capabilities. He means failing and starting over. He means not giving in to discouragement. He means doing the best we can most of the time. These ideas appear often throughout his writing.]

In our conversation, we will come together without regard to religion, or lack of it. We will try to leave at the door our predilections to blame (politics, relatives, neighbors, the schools, the government, cell phones, the media, and that favorite target of the “good people,” society . . . which is that large group of other people who are causing all the trouble). Hope is not about blaming. Neither does it rule out very ordinary matters or jokes or even complaints. Hope doesn’t rule out at all; it includes. And it equalizes, so that Pope Francis, bishops, priests, sisters, women, men . . . can be a non-hierarchical group of friends who travel with us on the evolutionary journey into Eternity. That’s the point. In the words of Timothy Radcliffe, OP, “To hope is to hang on to the confidence that there is some ultimate point to human existence.”

How many people deliberately realize that truth on a regular basis? Count on it? Relax into it? “There is some ultimate point to human existence” that we, you and I, will meet and experience. (Actually that we’re experiencingnow, whether or not we feel it!)

Will this upcoming conversation attract Tower residents? Will they participate and join us in co-creating our Mission? Will we—all of us—make a difference to ourselves, our Tower environment, our Congregation, our world? Will living Hope and speaking Hope grow?

For God’s sake, we Hope so.