Happy Feast of St. Joseph, earthly father of Jesus. We know that he listened to the Lord, thought things through, loved his family, and was there for Jesus at least until he was 12. We know he was a man of deep faith and acted on that Faith in God. Though our dear Josephs words are none, he speaks clearly about his identity as a son of God in taking Mary, his betrothed into his home, taking Mary and Jesus to Egypt when Ceasar was killing all the children under two, and back to Bethlehem. He, like his predecessor Joseph who eventually became the keeper of the keys of Pharoah’s house, has dreams where God speaks, and responds to them.
Every once in a while the memory of a homily given by one of the Priests I’ve worked with and for comes to mind. Usually when this happens there’s a wee bit of something going on that brings this particular homily to mind. This is one of those memories where I can see myself in the pew of the Church in part listening carefully, in part wondering what was going on that prompted this homily, and what I do I need to do to take action on this. The only action at this time wasn’t really open to me. When a door closes and you can hear not only the lock but the bolt behind it, it’s best to walk away.
The homily Father preached on how Jesus laid out for us to deal with conflict by going to the person first to work things out, if that didn’t work take someone with you as a mediator and witness, if this doesn’t work then you’ve done what you can. Father went on to talk about calumny and detraction – which I alway have to go look up – calumny is speaking something about a persons that you know to be false; detraction is speaking something that is true but has a chance to ruin someone’s reputation. There is a very distinct difference between giving someone information that they may need to take action on as a person in authority/decision maker or where a person may be positioned for some kind of devestating self harm, and the actions of calumny and detraction. There is a distinct difference in seeking advice on how to deal with a situation because someone may have more experience and/or is a cource of wisdom.
I’m sitting here thinking that while I wish Father’s homily made a difference, changing the outcome of that particular situation I can see in some ways that it has. Further in part in hearing Sunday’s Gospel, and in reflecting on the women in the old & new testament there is something fascinating that happens, sometimes God speaks and what we hear, what *I* hear, is as rolling thunder, or static. Am I listening for God’s voice? Am I hearing thunder or static because of some impediment on my part? Am I connected with Jesus in a prayerful and loving relationship? Am I listening to and listening for the promptings of the Holy Spirit? Where am I giving into fear, mistrust, or temptation?
I quilt for public consumption meaning that when the opportunity arises I quilt for show, or for publication in a magazine, or to show on various social media channels, or for my book. Since the late nineties I’ve actively participated in some kind of social media from rctq and message boards to most of what is current. I’ve participated in guilds, and organizations promoting the art of quilting. There are times when people are greatly supported, and there are times when people are brought to Jesus moment without the crowd dissipating and all the stones being tossed in their direction. Sometimes it’s a misunderstanding of how something was said, or a differeing moral and/or political point of view. Sometimes it’s a group of quilters who didn’t like, didn’t get, were having a bad day personally and decided that the teacher did a bad job teaching and therefore it must be spoken of because clearly she has no business teaching anyone to do anything. I know of one quilter on the national teaching track that bailed because one guild well, I’ll leave it there. Let’s just say when I heard about it I wasn’t amused and there was nothing I could do about it.
Calumny and Detraction can do great damage to quilters, to people. In my own experience I nearly left the Church because of calumny and detraction, with no recourse. If not for the Eucharist my own faith would have shattered in a bejillion little pieces, my soul bereft with nothing to fill the great emptiness and loneliness of my heart. Calumny and detraction make very real that the one on the receiving end of it is clearly outside the community for some reason, however this often doesn’t give them recourse to change or grow, or apologize and have some kind of conversion experience. It also puts the ones saying things about that person on some moral high ground whilst forgetting their own feet of clay are at risk from the rising waters of public opinion.
I might have a legit thing to be upset by or complain about, my obligation is to pursue a one on one conversation to repair the relationship. It will be a long time, if ever that whatever happens becomes a public post. I *might* say something here in a generalized eough way that most people won’t be able to make the direct connection to the situation because there are people involved, good people who still need to work and provide for their family. And while *we* may not be able to work together down the road, I will not make it impossible for anyone to work with others. No this is not particularly virtuous on my part, it is however, a recognition of the damage that can be done to others.
A friend of mine shared the following with me:
while this video nails the perfectionist perfectly this video also shares the bigger point of how our Lord wants to engage us, bringing us into deeper community with Himself and our neighbors (quilters). Over and over and over and over in Scripture we hear that God wants to be in relationship with us, for us to hear His voice, to know deeply that we are loved and worthy of being loved, that others are loved by Him and worthy of being loved. That while we make mistakes that there is redemption and reconciliation available to us.
While my friend showed this to me because I was freaking out because of a mistake I made, one that was easily corrected. All I could hear in my head in this moment was “shame! shame! shame!” I felt for my friend seriously. She totally reminded me that I am a human being, worthy of being loved, that making mistakes happens and that it’s okay to correct them and move on.
Sometimes these blog posts get away from me, this one demanded some serious attention before posting and I’m fine with that. Just like a couple of my quilts that have demanded either ripping out stitches, or demanded to be something other than my original intention people are complicated, and fascinating, and messy, and imperfect. If I want someone to extend grace and accept my imperfections I need to be willing to do the same for others. The more I read of Jesus’ interactions with the Scribes & Pharisees the more I realize that what He’s actually doing is calling them into a deeper relationship with him and with people, not to set people outside of the community so swiftly.