Day 17: Holy AND Frustrating: Both Parts Are True

Holy AND Frustrating

SR. TRACEY HORAN, S.P. | March 18, 2022
Today’s Readings

We’ve gotten good at holding opposite truths in our tired hands during the pandemic. The “and” of it all is both holy and frustrating. There are deaths to mourn and there are births to celebrate. We have been making the best choices we can for the safety of those we love, and those choices have sometimes been hard and disappointing. We have been fighting for justice for a long time. And, that justice is still too often being denied. Both parts are true.

Holy AND Frustrating: Both Parts Are True

As Richard Rohr says, ‘“And” helps us to live in the always imperfect now.” Today’s readings lay out an impressive set of unsettling, contradictory “ands”: Joseph was his father’s favorite, and his brothers plotted to kill him. The builders rejected the stone. And, that same stone became the foundation. Jesus was hemmed in by Pharisees who wanted to arrest him. And, the crowd following him was big enough to dissuade them. Both parts are true. 

I recently witnessed an unsettling “and” moment as I listened to Ruth*, a mother and migrant organizer from southern Mexico waiting and working for asylum at the U.S. border. She shared “ands” with a visiting student group that took my breath away: 

My family is not safe here,
       and we can’t return to the place we’re from. 

I have no idea when we will be able to access the asylum process,
       and I have faith that someday we will. 

We have not achieved our goal that one day the U.S.-Mexico border will open to asylum seekers,
       and I am proud of how we’ve lifted our voices, the small victories we have won. 

Her tears conveyed the pain of these “ands,” these contradictory truths. All I could do was sit with her, hand her a Kleenex and nod in agreement: both parts are true. As we journey toward the cross these days, we embrace a symbol that for Jesus’ followers meant both failure and victory, both death and resurrection. Our brother Jesus invites us to live as though both parts are true. 

For Reflection: 

  • What are some of the seemingly contradictory “ands” showing up in my life these days? How do I deal with them?
  • Do I allow myself to live both death and resurrection? Where do I have resistance?
  • How would it impact my work for justice if I could live into both the failure and victory that I see?
10 replies
  1. Jenny G.
    Jenny G. says:

    Thank you, Sister, for this stimulating reminder that we live in the midst of love AND hate, judgement AND forgiveness, fear AND hope! May we continually be strengthened to live in the love, forgiveness and hope, yet be humble in our weakness. God bless you and your work at the border.

  2. Eileen Quinn Knight Knight
    Eileen Quinn Knight Knight says:

    Living in the present with both the failures and successes is doable as we give each moment of our day to the Lord. Whether it is a ‘crowd at Mass’ and we are trying to pray seriously for the peace in Ukraine and Russia or it is the reaching out to others who need food and the lack of nourishment for those who live on the borders, our God listens to our prayers and helps us to answer them with His help both the ‘ands’ we have in our lives..

  3. Paula
    Paula says:

    Thank you Sister for sharing this experience and reflection. As I sit here I now realize that the gift Jesus gave me, us, is the ‘AND’. Why do I continue to live choosing to use ‘but’? It almost seems with each ‘but’ comes a cock crow, and so a denial of the greatest gift Jesus gave us. I pray for the awareness to use only ANDS because Jesus has already won, and focus my attention on helping others through the battlefield of life that already has a victory. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and inspiring me to be a better person.

  4. Justin Whtite
    Justin Whtite says:

    Sister Tracey, thank you for your witness! Your reflection came at a time when I was very much caught up in my head about the consolations and desolations of the world – instead of following the grace in my heart. Thank you!

  5. Sarah Johnson
    Sarah Johnson says:

    I am holding the truth of Putin being evil and yet the people of Russia are just like any other people. I have a professional relationship with some women in Siberia and I’m really struggling with how to decide what to do next… to work with them or not. Jesus would probably work with them… yet I’m afraid of the unknown repercussions.
    Living in a ‘both and’ world makes for a much richer full experience of life. And it causes us to hold and give voice to the most complex and messy parts of life. What a time to be alive…

  6. Ann Strohminger
    Ann Strohminger says:

    Thanks for this great reflection. I wrote a reply to a person in authority because of a doorway which was being closed. I appreciated their viewpoint and offered an idea of how my idea could open door to compassionate listening and hospitality. I may not get what I hope for AND and yet I am grateful for the courage to reach beyond .

  7. sonja
    sonja says:

    Brought up always to see the light of God in others. I focus on the good in them. The good in Putin. He supports everyone in Russia to own their own land to grow their own food. 90% of food production in Russia is produced by individuals on small plots of marginal land. Think what that would mean to our physical and spiritual health if everyone in the world could grow their own food on their own land. We would no longer need pharmaceutical companies imposing their products on us to combat our fears.

  8. Dr.Cajetan Coelho
    Dr.Cajetan Coelho says:

    Inspiring. Good work. Well done. Sister Tracey has something precious to say. May her tribe increase.

  9. Sonia Mendoza
    Sonia Mendoza says:

    Thank you so much, Sister, for this insightful reflection. Your work continues to strengthen my love for social justice and to listen to the cries of our people. It is a Holy Frustration and as somebody who lives on the margins, I can relate. And, I have Faith and Hope that Our Lord will Hear Us. Thank you once again. May God Bless you, always. You’re in my prayers.


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