This past month, I ran across a God-book, the kind of reading where one must stop, be still, reflect, rejoice, contemplate and share. Together and individually we have been sharing and discussing Laudato si’, searching and listening, hoping and desiring regarding our dear world and its mammoth needs.
By Love’s Light and leading, I found this book that has called me to profound hope and to ever-deeper prayer. It’s a collection of essays by Carmelite theologian Constance FitzGerald, OCD, whose study and contemplation moved her to share her profound wisdom. Some of the essays were written several years ago, but like the Bible, their truths are as fresh as ever.
Connie sees our moment in time as indeed an impasse, a place of “can’t go forward/can’t go back,” a time of active waiting, a time of backward grace that beckons us to welcome the darkness as we listen for that Voice who is leading us “to let go to let come.”
Connie uses a word that holds a lot of baggage for some of us: Contemplation.
“Oh, I’m not a Teresa of Avila or St. Therese of Lisieux.” “I’m called to an active life as an Adorer.”
The contemplation she speaks of calls us to the depth of what we call adoration, a life-stance of deep listening, of waiting upon Spirit-direction, of acting only after spending the night on the mountain. The beauty of Connie’s wisdom is reflected back by essays of other theologians responding from their expertise and experience. So, for example:
- Bryan Massingale addresses impasse from the point of view of racial justice
- Andrew Prevot tackles impasse and violence in our world
- Margaret Pfeil looks at impasse and climate change
- Roberto Goizueta writes about impasse and the option for the poor
- Susie Babka writes about impasse and the coronavirus
- Shawn Copeland gives an overview of impasse and all these world issues, and states how contemplation is needed to address them all.
The name of this treasure is “Desire, Darkness, and Hope: Theology in a Time of Impasse.” This book touched my soul in a profound way, dove-tailing so much with our own charism of adoring, redeeming love. Don’t be deterred by its 450 some pages. If it moves us to more faithful listening and waiting upon God’s purifying Presence, it’s well-worth every sentence.
Let me leave you with one of Connie’s quotes:
“As Americans, we are not educated for impasse, for the experience of human limitation and darkness that will not yield to hard work, studies, statistics, rational analysis and well-planned programs. Impasse provides a challenge and concrete focus for prayer and drives us to contemplation; only in the process of bringing the impasse to prayer, to the perspective of the God who loves us, that our society will be freed, healed, changed, brought to paradoxical new visions, and freed for nonviolent, selfless, liberating action, freed for community on this planet earth.”