by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

“We are called to live in solidarity with the crucified Christ.” — Corein Brown, Collegeville Institute

It’s Saturday morning, July 14, 2012; I am at St. Jane House in north Minneapolis for a Vocation-Storytelling-retreat with ten other discerning women and men gathered together to reflect more deeply on our callings. After a five month Winter-into-Spring routine as Monday evening “Following the Spirit” participants, our hearts are open, ready. Our retreat co-facilitator, Corein Brown, from the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research is addressing our group and speaks these words into the room:

“We are all called for self-giving service and community; to befriend the stranger, the poor, the enemy and to live in solidarity with the crucified Christ.”

Ms. Brown’s words give me pause, especially the last part. “What?” I ask myself. “We are all called to live in solidarity with the crucified Christ? All of us?” I think, “around that cross?”  I repeat these words aloud. Is Corein really stating this so matter-of-factly? The image sort of causes me to stumble for a second in my mind, and I try to see this:

Dead prophet strung up,
a bloody man whose lungs have collapsed and limbs are still fixed by nails to a wooden cross.
It’s hot.
There are flies.

And I question: I’m called to be there? We all are? That’s a lot of people. It’s just a lot (period) to hold on every level.

I imagine the smells in the air (perspiration, smoke, somewhere sea air?);  the taste in my mouth, (oranges and onions and coffee; sweet, sour — a bile that rises?);  the feel of my skin as I brush up against another and move closer to Jesus (am I clammy with sweat, or is that Christ’s cooling dead body that makes me shiver?)

FTS Vocation Storytelling Retreat Participants, From L to R (back row): Sr. Katherine Mullin, Nathalie Pouakam, Becca Vandenberg, Fabio Anifrani, Sonja Ausen-Anifrani, Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Corein Brown, Mary Heimerman, (Front): Meagan McLaughlin, Amanda Steepleton

FTS Vocation Storytelling Retreat Participants, From L to R (back row): Sr. Katherine Mullin, Nathalie Pouakam, Becca Vandenberg, Fabio Anifrani, Sonja Ausen-Anifrani, Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Corein Brown, Mary Heimerman, (Front): Meagan McLaughlin, Amanda Steepleton. Photo by Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan

Solidarity is the integration… shown by a society or group with people and their neighbors.[1] It refers to the ties in a society that bind people to one another.

I am called to be here, aligned with this crucified being. I am uncomfortable. I am angry. I am filled with sorrow and rage and wonder. “What is this all about? What does this mean?”

I think about who this man is to me, and wonder why I care so profoundly for him, his experience of suffering, of this death. I think about what the word “solidarity” means in this context, in every community, in all of the world.

I ask myself, “Who is Christ crucified in this moment, time, day and age? Where do I see him along my Selby Avenue  corridor in St. Paul? How does his broken and pierced body manifest in the Visitation Sisters’ neighborhood? How am I standing alongside him — or her, in this present day? How am I in solidarity with this human and divine Jesus?”

I invite you to join me in these ruminations and to meditate sincerely on this vocational call. What prophetic beings are you standing in solidarity with today? Who, in your world, reveals the mystery of suffering to your heart? How are you stretched, made uncomfortable and simultaneously transformed by these Christ-aligned relationships?

How are you called in this moment to witness and be at the cross?


1 Comment

Sr. Katherine · July 19, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Rodney came to the door. He was just asking for 2 tokens, so he could get to work for the next 2 days. He’d walk home, but he had to get to this job, he had to keep this job.-he has a 12 year old, after all. He knows of others who have sold the tokens we gave them, but not him! I know he spoke the truth and I saw the crucified Jesus in his person. He works, so hard, and his life is so hard. Thanks for your words,Melissa, I remembered that Rodney had come and brought me Jesus.SK2

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *