by Laurie Gudim
A few years ago I went to a luncheon at the spirituality center of the Sisters of Loretto in Denver. They had invited state legislators with whom they had worked, both to thank them for their work and to gently persuade them to labor for human rights issues in the months ahead. After these lawmakers had left, the Sisters were exclaiming happily over one man who had shown himself to be particularly sensitive to the plight of people in poverty, especially people of color. Growing up, he had attended Catholic schools, and one Sister remarked, “the women who educated that man should be very, very proud.”
This is how I came to understand that teaching, for the Loretto Sisters, is a subversive activity. This is often true for teachers of all stripes around the globe, and is why education is usually snuffed out right away by dictators.
I think of Mary and Elizabeth, a guerrilla army of two, together in the hill country of Judea. In their wombs are men of God, destined to profoundly change our understanding of the Holy forever. The Magnificat, Mary’s remarkable hymn of thanksgiving and praise, is testimony to her rebel heart. It is political to its core. God, she says, will overthrow the powerful, send the rich away empty, feed the hungry and restore Israel – all through the son who she will raise.
I think of the young people with whom I am friends – my grandchildren and the kids at church. Am I impeccable in how I treat them and in what I teach them? Do they know from me that they are profoundly loved, worthy, and precious, no matter what? Do they learn from me that all other people are, too?
In these last days of Advent, I am going to contemplate influence. I am going to pray that I be more and more transparent to God as God moves through me, recognizing that in each of the moments of my days I testify to one sort of truth or another. In my words and actions I testify to the divisive, power-focused, hateful, competitive understandings that surround me – or I testify to the truth of the reign of God.
Laurie Gudim is a writer and religious iconographer who lives in Fort Collins, CO. You can view some of her work at Everyday Mysteries.
Image: icon by Laurie Gudim