Friday, 19 June 2015
SAWBONNA: CHOICE and LOVE.
Thomas Merton, who became the Trappist Monk, Father Louis, has for many years felt close. Not only because he was, poet, word lover, lover of France. The reason he has always felt close is because he chose to answer a calling to live within the crucible of a faith that felt to speak to him of what life was asking for through him. He loved women and whiskey, it has been written. Maktoub! And yet he heard something that meant he would choose to thrive in another way. As I sit in my retreat, here in Ventabren, France, moments from Aix-en-Provence, where Pierre Teilhard de Chardin entered the Jesuit seminary in the mid-1900s, I lean in very close to what it is that a life of justice means. Justice as a lived and living experience. Sawbonna, sibling of Restorative Justice, continues to offer an answer. That answer lies in the fact that we make choices. Choices about how we engage, about how we disengage. Choices about how we choose to love, to hate, to form, inform, reform, and be transformed by all manner of relationship. Sawbonna daily teaches me that no one is exempt from choice. From choosing. Further, Sawbonna reminds me that every viscious word aimed at another i.e. the loser, the fuck-up, the slut, the player, is a conversation awaiting my choice to engage. And what is it with which I am engaging, and why do I care to engage? The answer is this, "I am engaging with shared-humanity, wherein experience, emotion, need, and want each colour and contour the choices I make about: respect, responsibility, and relationship. Very much akin to the saying about people in glass houses and throwing stones, Sawbonna is a gentle and generous reminder of choice, of choosing. Sawbonna, which means I see you, and which is an invitation for you to see me, is one way of asking, "What am I choosing in how I respond to the vast and varied injustices I feel, I see, be they in the personal, political, and public terrains of relating and relationships?" Sawbonna does not invite me to deny, denigrate, ignore my own shame, anger, anguish, fear, loathing, and jealousies. It does invite me to ask what it is those powerful messages are wanting to teach me about: respect, responsibility, relationship, and love. Yes! Sawbonna is about love. And love means boundaries, means authenticity, means accompanying together, and means, at times, walking away from. Choice in kinship with Sawbonna is our break for freedom. Our answer to love, in all of love's compelling and complex voicings.