Sunday, June 5, 2011

Our Lady of Providence

Whenever I take the opportunity to sit and write a blog post, I regret that I don't write them more frequently. Not for any audience that I might have, which I really do not have, but for my own learning purposes. Blogging is like a public journal and in that I find that there is a call to humility and authenticity to keep things crisp, if not clear for a possible reader.

I am a huge fan of synchronicity, the uncanny chain that brings like thoughts, ideas, events in close proximity to one another. There may be other conditions or causes operating behind the coincidences, like the law of attraction or one's intentionality or focus, but all the same I find it fascinating. In the religious life, we spoke of a similar set of experiences but related it to the term "providence". Having lived in Terre Haute, Indiana, adjacent to Saint Mary's of the Woods, the motherhouse of the Sisters of Providence, it really isn't too much of a stretch to trace the origins of this personal fascination.

Yesterday, I had a morning meeting with a fellow member of the South Florida Diversity Council at Starbucks and we were using the opportunity to share our diversity stories and what we may be able to accomplish in elevating the conversation here in South Florida. Visioning about a more inclusive community and what each of us could do...our shared next steps. In the series of topics we spoke of, I returned to an earlier reflection that I had shared with a group of managers regarding Western female gender roles and the developmental life cycle.

I want to proceed carefully as I am a male, but it has occurred to me over the course of examining change processes and problem-solving that being female might afford an individual an opportunity to approach a set of circumstance much differently than an individual who by gender is male. The Dali Lama was recently reported to have said that his hopes for humanity reside with Western women. (An interesting assertion in its own right that I'm afraid is outside the scope of this blog.) Without knowing the context of his comments, I searched for some assumptions that I could use to explain it based on my perceptions.

Developmentally, the life cycle takes us all through immense changes. Given the complexity of social roles and how they interplay with life cycle changes, it became apparent to me that women play the primary roles in developmental changes that take place over long periods of time starting with pregnancy and child-rearing (around nine months and well over 18 years respectively). Additionally, there are other social roles such as education and care-giving that don't take place in a heart-beat. The moment to moment care of a sick family member or an aging parent stretch over extensive periods of time as well. Deep learning and profound change require time perhaps as much as a developmental changes require time. From this context, I can see the possibility of not jumping to problem-solving to soon or moving into activity without greater analysis or sacrificing the relationship for the task at hand. Given the severe challenges of today's world, where no immediate remedy could possibly be hoped, perhaps we need a more relationship-centered, long-term, mutually beneficial, developmental approach to tackle the challenges.

With reflections like this would it surprise you that last night when my friend and I sat down to watch a movie, we choose to watch a 1999 film entitled "Mary, the Mother of Jesus" and a short documentary of Mary Magdalene? Two iconic historical figures and archetypes of the female in the West. As a child of the seventies, Mary's fiat and the Beatles's song "Let it Be..." never come closer together. The documentary was exceptionally well done in that 9 of the 10 commentators on Mary Magdalene were female (always a step in the right direction). I suspect that one of the learning opportunities for me in all this is the acceptance of the unacceptable. In the movie, Mary was led to accept the circumstances surrounding her virgin birth and the eventual death of her son and Mary Magdalene was the first witness to the resurrection. Both are preeminent examples of the triumph of intuition (classically a feminine spirituality in the West) over logic and reason (classically masculine). Western historical commentary on these women, until recently, was a largely male monologue in relation to who each of these women were reflected off the male, Jesus. Entirely missing the point of the story, as per Jesus said in Jesus Christ Superstar, "Neither you Simon, nor the fifty thousand, nor the Romans, nor the Jews, nor Judas, nor the twelve, nor the priests, nor the scribes, nor doomed Jerusalem itself, understand what power is, understand what glory is, understand at all." The interesting thing about these lyrics is that each reference to a subject that lacks understanding is male in gender.

Thanks to Our Lady of Providence, any given Saturday, can provide the context for greater dialog and an appreciation of everyone's contribution to the on-going development of our understanding of what it means to be human, to be in a state of evolution.

Magnificat anima mea Dominum...