From the Director:
The first signs of spring are already obvious in the plant life around the Oblate house in Washington. After a winter that saw record snow fall in the area, with schools, businesses and government offices closed down or interrupted for many days, these harbingers of spring are most welcome.
Two massive and terribly destructive earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, sandwiched around the winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, turned our attention to the movement of the tectonic plates that form the earth’s surface. They remind us at the same time of the precariousness of our journey on earth and of the awesome power latent in the natural order. Scientist tell us that the diving of the Pacific plate under the Chilean plate some twenty miles below the surface of the earth may have shifted the earth’s axis and ever so slightly shortened the hours of daylight that we experience.
Our immediate attention turned to the incredible destruction of buildings and tremendous loss of life, especially in Haiti, caused by these earthquakes. At the same time, we have witnessed the generous response in solidarity from across the world to both tragedies. We have seen and heard numerous stories of heroic rescues and survival, alongside descriptions of the loss and suffering that have interrupted so many lives and will continue to do so for years.
The feverish debate and hardened differences that have emerged in the United States around the issues of health care, climate change, financial regulatory reform, jobs and immigration, rightly recede into the background when such tragedies occur, but they do not go away. The ongoing search for political solutions to all of these very difficult and contentious issues serves to remind us of the messy work that often goes into making our and other societies work, and the difficulty of finding a working consensus.
As the church walks along the Lenten-Easter journey and the Oblate congrega- tion prepares for a Gen- eral Chapter in September focused on the theme of conversion, we can all take advantage of these invita- tions and opportunities for reflection. We can ask how we can better participate in the collective process of building up the many com- munities of which we are members. On a global level, the question becomes how we can more effec- tively realize our commit- ments to be in solidarity with the far flung commu- nities across the world who depend on our solidarity, and who reach out to us for support in times of tragedy and disaster?