Monasteries of the Heart

Monks in Our Midst: Mary Ellen Plumb on Faces of Grace

We have had a few requests this week for this particular Monks in our Midst to be republished given the recent news of mass shootings in the United States. For what it is worth, consider a second read and new reflection and, then, please share what is happening in your own heart.

I admit to being an avid current events addict. I blame my father who loved all things historical and political as well as an entire array of Social Studies teachers whose extraordinary talent for education and critical thinking inspired and challenged me toward an insatiable curiosity.

It is a world that once excited me, sparked fierce research to understand issues thoroughly and served to satisfy, in part, my thirst for knowledge and insight and new ideas.

It is a terrible place to be these days. Wrought with pure meanness and an arrogance and narcissism I would not have once imagined of public figures, at least at such a seemingly endless rhythm.

At the same time, I live in a monastic community that aspires to a corporate commitment to peace, stewardship and justice for all people, especially women and children. So, I do not have the luxury of simply turning off the news. I am, in fact, compelled to address whatever is not of God, whatever is no longer just or sacred or beautiful.

Instead of turning away, then, I pray with the news. I break open the stories and the people in the news, even those who turn my stomach, and seek the grace to speak and work boldly, courageously, toward a different world.

I keep pictures in a small bowl in my prayer space: a young Syrian child, bloodied by the war in his country;  immigrant children torn from their parents’ arms;  students who have lost friends and teachers to gun violence; my own heroes of truth and justice; and yes, even public figures with whom I am so deeply disappointed.

I embrace these images as I pray.

I recall these images often as I move through my day, aware that they may well be the faces that will stir me to action.

I remember in these images that God is still God, alive and moving in our world.

Because of all those with a passion for peace and for justice, for beauty and for truth. Perhaps, because of you. And please, God, because of me.

Who are the faces of grace for you? What impact do they have when your heart is heavy? Explain.

Thanks for sharing your reflections with us here.

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