How are we living our call in this time of ours? Sister Virginia Wilkinson

Virginia WilkinsonPresentation Sister Virginia Wilkinson, New Windsor

On Sunday, January 29 the Interfaith Vigil for National Healing and Unity sponsored by the Sisters of the Presentation, New Windsor began with a reading of “The Duel” by Eugene Fields. “The gingham dog and the calico cat, side by side at the table sat…”We probably remember the words from our elementary school days. Alas, “side by side” didn’t indicate companionship. Instead, the two “wallowed this way and tumbled that employing every tooth and claw in the awfullest way you ever saw!”

None of us wants to live in an America filled with “gingham dogs and calico cats,” yet the bickering, name calling, partisanship in which we find ourselves immersed is for sure the “awfullest” thing I have ever seen.
At our vigil we examined the attitudes which we felt were most in need of healing in our country today: cynicism, arrogance, disrespect, distrust, scapegoating among them, and then reflected on which attitude resided in our own heart. We prayed a litany of healing for ourselves and for our country.

We remembered Pope Francis’ call to create a “Culture of Encounter” and then looked at St. Francis of Assisi’s encounters with the wolf of Gubbio, the leper, and the Sultan of Egypt. We looked at our own attempts at encounter with “the other.”

Lastly, we prayed prayers for peace found in different religious traditions, trying to focus on one from a tradition not our own in an attempt to pray it as and with our Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or Jewish brothers and sisters.

Forming a large circle and looking at one another we recited the words of Mahatma Gandhi:

I offer you peace. I offer you love. I offer you friendship.
I see your beauty, I hear your need. I feel your feelings.
My wisdom flows from the Highest Source. I salute that Source in you.
Let us work together for unity and love.

It was one hour on a Sunday afternoon, but I know I was changed. We were there in solidarity around our common humanity and the goals we all have for our loved ones and communities. I will still go to rallies to protest the delay in refugee resettlement. I will sign petitions and make calls about environmental injustice, but I am not as angry – and that’s a good thing. May this inner peace focus my passion and actions for justice.