Last night Solidarity with Sisters welcomed LCWR staff for a party celebrating Sister Janet Mock as she completes her term as LCWR executive director. I've been thinking for weeks about how to write about Janet without doing a premature canonization. For now, let me echo a story Mary Novak told yesterday:
"Being with Janet makes me want to be a better person," said one woman. "No," said her friend: "When we're with Janet, we ARE better people. Janet's presence is transforming."
How does this happen? How does Janet's presence transform people and situations?
In part, it's because Janet relates in a complete and generous way to each person she's with. The mystery of the Trinity is that the core of divinity, the essence of God-ness, is relational. From this flows transformation. You get a taste of that when you're with Janet.
It's one thing to ask, What would Jesus do? It's an excellent question. But when I've had the joy and privilege of up-close-and-personal seeing someone much like myself act in sacramental ways, it may help me get concrete and specific if I ask, What would Janet do?
This morning brought a different lens to the theme of relatedness. Our study group gathered to continue discussion of Judy Cannato's Field of Compassion. People have very different reactions to the book, but it consistently provokes great reflections. A key awareness is that we are each complete in ourselves and also integral parts of some larger completeness. Our information and our energies influence other people and systems. Being deliberate about this is the gift and challenge of being human.
Later, during the liturgy, the scripted prayers of the faithful invited us emphasize relationships rather than consumerism as we move toward Christmas. How can we use Christmas celebrations and gifts to strengthen relationships?
After the liturgy, our annual parish Alternative Giving Fair surrounded us with our relatedness to vulnerable communities nearby and around the world. Want to purchase pretty recycled-steel jewelry and batik paintings from a Kenyan women's cooperative? Soft Chilean wool scarves? Gift cards honoring donations to a local food pantry or clothes closet? All this and much more put us in touch with the wider world of which we are a part.
I came home to my daughter's delight in her family's very-early-morning tromp through Pajamarama -- discounts for shopping at our local stores if and only if you're wearing pajamas! That led me to re-open resources about relational giving and celebrations from another local group, the Center for the New American Dream.
Isaiah invites us to use our own feet to tramp down a smooth path for God's coming. In the past 20 hours I've gotten many reminders that the way we do this is through generous, life-giving relationships. Our relationships are "the highway for our God."
So as I continue into Advent, I'll be asking myself whether and how I relate to others and to the world in ways that let God enter. I'll be asking myself, "What would Janet do?"