It is an understatement to say that coming back to Canada has been a change. A panel I attended in November with Kate Hennessy, Dorothy Day’s granddaughter, was a space for calm. Kate shared lessons and memories of growing up in a Catholic Worker home. Surrounded by anarchists, in the audience and on the panel, the evening was a reminder that ordinary people everywhere, from Colombia to Canada, continue to be my role models.
In no particular order, and without taking anything too seriously, Kate presented a list of life learnings she gleaned from her grandmother, lessons that verbalize what I have heard echoed from community leaders and colleagues around the world. This is how I want live in 2019.
1 Make yourself uncomfortable. Deeply uncomfortable.
Figure out what you believe and then ask yourself: are you doing it? Within an economic system that is designed for the never-ending quest for comfort, choosing to be uncomfortable is a radical choice.
2. Follow your conscience.
3. Find your vocation.
“By the joy it brings you, you will know.” Kate says. This doesn’t mean that it is easy (see above), but comfort doesn’t always equal joy. As I adapt to my new role, and my new role adapts to me, I choose to be intentional about seeking out the joy.
4. Don’t be afraid.
Courage means putting one foot in front of the other, especially when it is terrifying and the future feels uncertain.
5. See beauty, no matter how difficult it may be.
In the words of Kate, “I don’t understand what this means, so that’s why I trust it. Things that are full of mystery spark our interest, transport and help us to see reality differently. If we can see a different reality, we can create a different reality.”
6. Love one another.
Expand our notion of family, of community. There are so many ways that we can be present for each other and pay attention to each other.
7. Never give up.
8. Laugh. A lot.
9. Pray. A lot.
Kate explained that her grandmother uses to dedicate three hours a day to her spiritual life, but with a very broad definition of spirituality. She would lock herself into her room to listen to opera, for example. Spiritual life can includes books, music, and whatever we need to change our ways of seeing the world and seeing each other, to find the beauty. For Dorothy, “writing is a form of prayer.” Paying attention is also a form of prayer.
I hope this list also speaks hope and challenge to you and your community. Remember, we are planting.