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.
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.
- 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?
Tracey Horan is a Sister of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana and associate director of education and advocacy for the Kino Border Initiative in Nogales, Sonora and Arizona, where she has lived and worked since 2019. Sister Tracey has ministered with Latinx migrant communities in a variety of contexts for over a decade. She previously worked as a teacher and then as a community organizer, with a focus on voting access, deportation defense, court accompaniment with migrants, and detangling ICE from local law enforcement. Sister Tracey recently celebrated 7 years as a Sister and is preparing to profess her perpetual vows this year.