(art by Christy Schee – ©Folding Hamster)
With Liberty and Justice
By Kriss Miller – Friend in Residence
As the days begin to shorten and we head towards what will soon be Fall, we will leave here to face a democracy in crisis. It was pretty much unanimous. Every speaker during week 5, where the theme of the week was Democracy and the Vote, mentioned the same thing over and again; we need to spend more time listening to each other. Every other, even the “other” others.
It seems like solving this problem might be easier for Quakers. Listening is in our cultural DNA. In the divisiveness of the political climate it is incredibly important to both model and share this practice; perhaps more than ever before. But easier isn’t always easy.
Today as we still sit in the balm that is Chautauqua we must wrestle with how to synthesize all that we have been offered in the 4 pillars of this special place; Religion, Arts, Education, and Recreation are the courses of daily manna offered here. We attend morning devotions from myriad faith practices, consume nearly hourly lectures from dawn to dusk while being offered 10+ weekly opportunities to sit in community and digest what we have taken in. This delectable experience is all scooped into a cone and served up with a symphony on top.
So rich is this experience that it cannot be the sustenance of our daily lives; this is a vitamin for envisioning, a spiritual supplement to make us strong enough to undertake the difficult job the founders of Chautauqua set forth for us all; take the message into your communities.
As we work towards a world of Liberty and Justice we must engage our capacity to listen. We must expand our capacity to hear beyond the words. We must listen for the rumbling hunger in our neighbors; a soul hunger rooted in exclusion, inequity, poverty, prejudice, loss, misinformation, and a deep craving for the deliciousness of connection. May we attend that hunger. And as we wait in the still silence may we remember to listen with our hearts as well as our ears.