Today's readings don't talk about process. They talk about huge instant changes. Elijah's prayed and the widow's son revived (1 Kings 17). Paul abandoned his zealous persecution of Christians to become the premier ambassador of Jesus (Galatians 1). Jesus touched the coffin and the young man started talking (Luke 7). The readings urge us to hope that something can happen beyond reason.
Peter Senge, renowned MIT guru of organizational change for decades, recently offered a recipe for causing change that appreciates his former work but leaps beyond it. In his book Presence, Senge and three colleagues say that big change happens through a person's profound awareness of people and what's happening, the person's capacity to let this awareness become deeper and deeper through continued experience, and the person's openness and skill in letting brand-new possibilities emerge.
The person has to change first, and that takes time. Once a person develops this kind of "presence," huge instant changes become possible. Senge and his colleagues tell stories of the power unleashed by one person's genuine presence in a room full of people living "business as usual." It's pretty inspiring.
Does it remind you, too, of the Real Presence we celebrate as Eucharist? Of our call to be Eucharist? When we live as Eucharist, we tap into the divine potential of being and bringing "thriving vitality."
I also think of the patient and resourceful work needed if we are to be Eucharist, to embody new life and abandon whatever is dead in us.
Dramatic revival from death still happens. Have you seen the stunning series of 36 tapestries by Esther Nisenthal Krinitz, called "Art & Remembrance"? In 1939, Esther was a 12-year-old living in rural Poland when the Nazis invaded her village. Her mother sent her and her sister into the cornfields and forests. They were the only two from her large family to survive the war.
At age 50, urged by her own daughters, Esther began this series of beautiful, detailed, heartbreaking tapestries to tell her story: childhood in the village, escape from the Nazis, and years of observation, privation and resourcefulness throughout the war.
I can only imagine the degree and kind of Presence that Esther's survival required of her. What capacity to be profoundly aware of people and unfolding reality! What skill in going deeper and deeper in this awareness, hoping toward a life of freedom that may have seemed like an unreasonable dream!
Esther and her sister risked their lives to gain new life - but not in a simplistic or foolhardy way. They saw the hanging bodies. They constantly invented ways to avoid that fate.
Senge tells us to go deep into quietness in order to develop the personal capacities that can stimulate renewal and revival. Esther and her sister went into hiding, where an interior life must have been essential for the survival of a spirit capable of creating these 36 masterpiece tapestries. LCWR, too, has gone deep into quiet in order to discern God's call, to deepen its capacity for dialogue, and to become ever more open to new possibilities. Our Contemplation Resources help me in this.
A tomb is a quiet place, whether it comes from death of the body or small deaths of one's spirit. But quiet can be the seedbed of new life.