Before the “State of the Union”

Last weekend I participated in the annual Men’s Retreat at Franciscan Retreat House in Prior Lake MN.  It was, as always, stimulating.

Other than the general framework, I  simply attend and participate, with the certainty born of experience that there will be insights gathered from the conferences and conversations and reflection time.  This years Retreat once again left me with lots to reflect on.

In particular, this year, two portions of the Retreat will stick with me, and their essence I would like to share with you.

At one of the talks, a reading, the Preface from a 1979 book by theologian Leonardo Boff, really spoke to me about community in general.  It’s vehicle is a train.  It was written in a religious context, of course; nonetheless, the “meat” of it in the first five paragraphs apply directly to any group in any context.  You can read the two pages here: Leonardo Boff001.  

Take some time to relate the words in context to our present day United States of America.  Tonight, of course, is the spectacle of the “State of the Union”.

The union, really, is the 330,000,000 or so of us who live in this divided country,

Saturday evening featured a movie – this year a one hour segment of the PBS series “We’ll Meet Again”.  The evening episode was Escape from Cuba, from Season Two.  It features two Cubans who escaped to the United States: one of them as a young child shortly after the revolution in 1960; the second as a teenager who left Cuba in 1980 as part of the Mariel Boat Lift.

The premise of “We’ll Meet Again” is to reunite, if possible, persons who have been separated for many years, where one person is driven by the desire to reunite.  The episode in question, and others, can be watched online and speak very eloquently for themselves.  It was a great gift to see the gift of hospitality to immigrants as reflected in the episodes we watched.  Fear of immigration and immigrants is a major issue today, and it is useful to study about the fears and the realities of Mariel.


Tonight, of course, is the State of the Union.  I most likely will not watch it. There is no need.  Everything is predictable.  And in our divided nation, I can see the people on Leonardo Boff’s train.

The State of our Union is, in the end analysis, something that each one of us has to create, one small or large action at a time.  I think we’re up to the  task.


from Molly: 

Thank you, Dick. The Boff piece is new to me, and I will print it and work on reading it several more times… yes, thought-provoking and really fine.
In return, I offer what I was listening to instead of the SOTU (I cannot listen to him with equanimity…)
The piece (without visual distraction of dancers) is 17 minutes of Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Swans” from Swan Lake.
I had forgotten how penetratingly lovely it is.  here
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