This post is about activists, of whom I personally know many, including on this blog list. Activists – no matter the cause – are not large in number. A Lutheran Pastor I greatly respect, a man whose flock was college students in California in the turbulent 1960s, estimated that perhaps 2% of the students at his colleges were actually activists – mostly anti-war. Mostly the collegians were simply going to college. But the activists made a disproportionate difference by their actions.
M, around which this post is built, is an activist I’m privileged to know. I don’t think she considered herself an activist, but she is. August 27 she sent her occasional collection of poetry to a list of unknown size, of which I’m happy to have long been a part. Here’s what she sent, for late Summer and early Fall, 2022: Summer-Fall 2022. I can remember about when she started this good habit. Something in these three pages may speak to you. Take a look.
She introduces her recent gift, thusly:
“Enclosed, as you can see, is a bit of late summer/early fall poetry…
It really feels like the season change snuck up on me this year, and perhaps you feel the same. Suddenly, the young crop of woodpeckers (3 different kinds) is coming into our feeders (while the young & raffish-looking blue jays sit in the nearby bush, explaining squawkily to their parents that they still want curb service…)
The flying squirrel visits the same feeder by dark; maybe once a week whoever’s getting up at night may get a look at him…he’s just so neat–& giant dark eyes…
And, the migration is starting—geese families are doing practice runs, and I saw a hummingbird stop at our hanging plant (word is that they’re starting migration through MN now). So, keep looking skyward.
Peace, love, hugs, in these scary times,”
I first mentioned M’s name in a post on Nov. 3, 2011. She has been a frequent contributor – I note 46 posts in which she was referenced, including in an unpublished draft I had entitled “Community Heroes” from late December 2018, where I had said this: “My gift to you, today, comes via long-time friend M, who I met years ago in Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers. Every now and then, most often at the times of solstice or equinox, M gathers a few pieces of poetry and sends them along to a list, including myself. They come without fanfare or gift-wrapping, but they indeed are gifts.”
As noted above, I don’t think M would consider herself an activist. Last time I actually saw her was probably at a meeting more than 10 years ago. But she inspires me, and doubtless others, in the most low-key kind of way.
I’m one person, and once upon a time I had the fantasy that it was practically possible for a simple concept – “each one, reach two” to be doable. It seemed so easy. Ain’t so. Anyone wishing to know more can easily find my story at Uncomfortable Essays at this site (pages 3-7).
So…”Each one, reach one”, is much more doable, particularly if unintended, teaching by example, as M is.
Today the Priest at Basilica, ordained 54 years ago in 1968, shared a story which fits the topic perfectly, in my opinion. (The Gospel text for today was Luke 14:1, 7-14, and it and the other readings focused on humility, the topic for his homily.)
Fr. T, retired, weekend assistant, and outstanding preacher, remembered a mentor when he was a young Priest in Chicago. The mentor was young also, but older colleague Priest, who shared a personal story when he was early in his career as a Priest.
When he was a new Priest, the mentor recalled, he got a prestigious appointment to a program in Rome. This was during the time when John XXIII was Pope (Oct. 1958-Jun. 1963).
The Priest travelled to Rome, in steerage class on a ship. Enroute, an older lady, dressed shabbily, saw him – he looked like a Priest – and stopped to visit. She asked where he was from, and he said Chicago, and she said she’d been there: “where?” He answered, including noting there were lots of “bums” where he was.
Fast forward, in Rome, the Priest went to a Mass at the Vatican, again rather full of himself, and at Communion time he noted John XXIII gave Communion specifically and especially to a group of people, one of whom he recognized immediately – the woman he’d met on the ship.
“I met her”, he said to the Priest sitting next to him. “Who is she?”
The Priest responded, “Dorothy Day” (deceased Nov. 29, 1980).
(You need to read the Gospel and know of Dorothy Day, recommended to be named a Catholic Saint, to get the point….)
I’d guess Molly – yes, that’s M’s name – will be embarrassed to be called a “community hero” and an “activist”. She is.
I know lots of M’s. One action, one day at a time….
POSTNOTE: after publishing this, and before M saw this post, her list got another item from her:
Another version, a professional reporter-type production, is somewhat longer, and has a “fuzzier” look and is here.
Love, blessings, and onward towards justice of all sorts,