Up here on the mountain, for those of us hailing from Christian roots, we are in Lent, one of those thin times during which we are graciously vulnerable to visitations from the invisible world of the soul and the sacred. These come to us in forms both marvelous and astonishing.
"Be anything you want. Be madmen, drunks, and bastards of every shape and form. But at all costs avoid one thing: success." - Thomas Merton
As my extended family gathered around the Thanksgiving dinner table before the market crash in 2008, conversation with cousins flowed about friends making big money with technology start-ups: "more, more; faster, faster; bigger, bigger."
A hail of laughter greeted me when I quietly muttered that my ambition was, "poorer, poorer; slower, slower; smaller, smaller."
When Sojourners started in 1970, I was 23 years old. Seven young seminary students pooled $100 each and used an old typesetter that we rented for $25 a night above a noisy bar to print 20,000 copies of the first Post-American.
I can tell by the way the trees beat, after so many dull days, on my worried windowpanes that a storm is coming, and I hear the far-off fields say things I can’t bear without a friend, I can’t love without a sister.
The storm, the shifter of shapes, drives on across the woods and across time, and the world looks as if it had no age: the landscape like a line in the psalm book, is seriousness and weight and eternity.
What we choose to fight is so tiny! What fights with us is so great! If only we would let ourselves be dominated as things do by some immense storm, we would become strong too, and not need names.
When we win it’s with small things, and the triumph itself makes us small. What is extraordinary and eternal does not want to be bent by us. I mean the Angel who appeared