Lenten Reflection on Balance

By Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan, Visitation Alumna

Too much chaos or too much order leads to sickness in ourselves, in nature, in our world. What is needed in us and in our world is the delicate balance between order and chaos to find our health. Nature needs this as well. As I awake this morning to news of the Tsunami and think of friends I have in Japan, in Hawaii, in California, Oregon, and people in all the areas that have had direct impact I began to pray for the harmony between chaos and order to be restored. How much more can they handle, can we handle as nuclear plant blasts, deaths, people and animals displaced and missing.  Dear God have mercy, how much more can we take? Can we hold? For what happens one place affects us all, like the tsunami waves that move out from the epicenter of the earthquake.

People in Japan are having a difficult time getting news of what is happening amidst the destruction. What can we do? A dear Japanese friend of mine, Ryo, calls for us to help via Facebook:
“PLEASE SPREAD THIS INFO!! There are tons of foreigner people who can’t get info by their language. And their family need info as well. So if you know language like French, German, Russian or whatever, please translate what you see in news and propagate on Twitter. Twitter spreads info really quick. So please do!!

His Holiness the Dalai Lama Expresses His Sadness Over the Recent Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan:

Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama

“In a letter sent on 12 March to H.E. Naoto Kan, the Prime Minister of Japan, His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed his shock and sadness on hearing the news of yesterday’s earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan. His Holiness offered his prayers for those who have lost their lives and offered his sympathy and condolences to their families and others affected by it. He expressed that we must all be grateful that the Japanese Government’s disaster preparedness measures have prevented the death and destruction from being much worse. Finally, as a Buddhist monk who daily recites the Heart Sutra, His Holiness felt it would be very good if Japanese Buddhists were to recite the Heart Sutra on this occasion. Such recitation may not only be helpful for those who have lost their precious lives, but may also help prevent further disasters in the future. Prayers to recite the Heart Sutra one hundred thousand times were being organized in Dharamsala for this purpose.”

As I walk on this Lenten journey and “fast on what makes us sad,” as Fr. Jim Radde, S.J. instructed the Ash Wednesday congregation at the Sisters Monastery to do, I try to remind myself that what carves out our sadness, which today seems to be filled with, is what also holds our joy. Sadness and joy are intimately related. We cannot know one without touching the other. The Sisters know this. They live it daily. I have said it before and will repeat it again, they are the most joyous order I know.

“This community [of Visitation Sisters in north Minneapolis] is a beautiful expression of God’s love in action. The hospitality, graciousness, and outpouring of care and concern for everyone (in Minneapolis, in Egypt) is almost astounding. In the conversations and stories the Sisters have shared, I have felt deeply affirmed in my own convictions about the need for authentic relationships at the core of ministry; the importance of mutual hospitality (not only welcoming, but being humble enough to be welcomed); and that God is at work in the being and walking with people as much as he is in the do-ing of programming.”  – Kelly, Come and See Weekend Participant

Join the Dalai Lama in prayer. Join me in prayer for the balance of order and chaos. As we find this balance individually, it too affects our larger community, informs nature and nature informs us. Twitter any news you can in any languages you know that will help share information with others who await news of loved ones. Consider what are your sorrows? How do they create space in you for joy? Join the Sisters as they model how to hold the balance of joy and sorrow. When we look at Lent we are invited to lean into the light, to lean toward joy, even when it seems the darkest before the dawn, the Crucifixion before the Resurrection.

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