It IS possible to live from the Divine center of gravity within us that orders our chaos and frees us to live the values of the Gospel: freedom, reconciliation, peace and unconditional love. Values that can change the world.Visit the Gravity website to get a better sense of them and to consider how you can support their work. Doing so will be a great anniversary present to them and a great investment in the well-being of the world.
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
I remember the first time I interacted with Chris Heuertz. At the time he was the international director of Word Made Flesh, a network of folks who love one another in real and practical ways whether they come from the wealthy West or were born into and trapped in extreme poverty or systems of injustice in the Majority World. I was a book editor; Chris wanted to convert some of the essays he'd collected from friends on behalf of WMF into a book. I told him that was a bad idea--collections like that don't sell. I hung up the phone and felt a little bad that I'd squelched this guy's vision and lamented that collections like that don't sell. And then I went on with my day. Simple Spirituality (which he's since followed up with two others: Friendship at the Margins and Unexpected Gifts), I started working with Phileena on her first book, Pilgrimage of a Soul. Contract negotiations, I'm happy to say, were much more straightforward, and the experience was just as delightful and soul-shaping for me. In the Heuertzes I discovered a rare quality: totally invested in the hard work of bringing justice and compassion to overlooked and exploited people throughout the world, they are nevertheless at peace with themselves and joyfully engaged in the day-to-day experience of life. They are big-hearted in ways I've never seen before. A year ago today Chris and Phileena ended their tenure at Word Made Flesh to devote the next chapter of their lives to helping people find their center even as they pour themselves into the problems of the world. Gravity is a center for contemplative activism, bringing the insights of Thomas Keating and other mystics ancient and contemporary to bear on the challenges of global justice work. They offer retreats and pilgrimages, spiritual direction and other services throughout the year with the goal of keeping activists in touch with their souls and spurring the rest of us to live out our spirituality in ways that improve the lot of our neighbors. It's a remarkable vision, and the two of them are uniquely gifted in it. Gravity to the world, such language is only appropriate: I'm blessed by Chris and Phileena and the vision that motivates their work:
Sunday, September 15, 2013
Many of my friends have written books. It's a remarkable feat in and of itself: in the cracks of an already full and busy life, they toiled at odd hours or on rare and costly retreats, drafting and redrafting the best possible ways to say a million different things about an idea that'd been burning a hole in their soul. They worked up the courage to share that idea with loved ones, friends, an editor or two or three hundred. They faced the hard realities of the publishing industry--increasingly demanding of an author's time for ultimately not a lot of money. They committed themselves passionately to their work, all the while striving to not lose their humanity while they built their brand and platform and invited the world to treat them like nothing more than the words on their pages or the concepts in their chapter titles. They dealt with the indignities of being misunderstood by reviewers, interviewers, readers, audiences, even their publishers. They sweated their Amazon ranking, loitered in the subject-specific aisle of their local Barnes and Noble, cyberstalked GoodReads, bookmarked the Library of Congress.