Wednesday, August 10, 2005

On The Journey Toward Right Use of Power

My schedule has been absolutely slammed recently. (Mostly due to my work and related travel) However, I continue to wrestle with the example of Christ and integrating His word and His life within into everyday life as an everday man.

He has called us to serve - especially the least. May this post stir up us to consider "questions not fully answered and dynamics not fully understood" and be used by God to sift our motivations and desires.

It is an article written by MADELINE BURGHART as part of the weekly reflection newsletter from Henri Nouwen and is certainly worth the read.

On The Journey Toward Right Use of Power

"Please, you must come inside," she begged. I refused, for the third time. Some people had gathered to watch. It was becoming uncomfortable. I turned away and joined the line of people waiting for their servings of food from the huge, communal pots.

I was attending a local man's ordination into the priesthood at an outdoor Mass in a township of Bulawayo, the city in Zimbabwe where I lived and worked for three years. The woman had invited me to join the young man's close friends and family, as well as local dignitaries, inside the Parish Hall. There they were enjoying (relatively) rich food and the use of tables, chairs, and cutlery. Outside, people took their food in bowls, used fingers to eat, and sat in clusters on the ground.

When I lived in Zimbabwe, I often found myself in situations like this, where my status as a well-educated white woman from a wealthy nation was all too evident. Why should I be invited inside? I did not know the man. I had attended this celebration only because a friend thought all Catholics in the city should be part of this great day. I turned away from the invitation knowing that my decision was hurtful, yet it was the one that resonated most deeply in my heart. I, a stranger, could not join this man's closest circle while others who knew him better remained outside.

While I felt certain of my response, my reflections on it since have not been without questions. This journey towards the right use of power, I now realize, is often marked by a sense of incompleteness, of questions not fully answered and dynamics not fully understood. Were the questions to stop, I would begin to be concerned. And while all our decisions must be informed by the truth that we are all created equally as God's children, it would be naïve to assume that the politics of power are not at play, even in our most basic everyday encounters.

I think of this often, many years later, as I raise my three young boys. Although my life certainly seems simpler now, the journey towards the right use of power carries on. As I try, sometimes ungracefully, to work out with my sons the best way to live this day, I search for the resonance of power used well.


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