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Center for Action and Contemplation
Solidarity
Solidarity

The Spirituality of Solidarity

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Independence Day (United States)

Barbara Holmes reflects on solidarity and this year’s Daily Meditations theme The Prophetic Path 

I’m reminded of the power of the prophetic path to create solidarity where it least seems possible, and to enhance compassion for the suffering of others and the suffering of the world. But what are we to do about the troubles of the world? Well, Jesus calls us—his brash and troublesome disciples who question, doubt, and continually fail him—to take up the mantle of prophecy, to discern the signs of the times, and to be an ever-present balm in a troubled world.… 

Physicist Neil de Grasse Tyson reminds us that our solidarity is not a choice, it’s a reality. He says we’re all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically, and to the rest of the universe atomically. Our solidarity is a scientific fact, as well as the salvific act of a loving Savior and a wise and guiding Holy Spirit. Even our call to solidarity is exemplified by the Divine…. Because Jesus has come, and truly overturned and overcome the systems of the world, he beckons us to do likewise.  

The systems say that change can’t come, that gravity wins, that religion is of no use except to placate the people, that you’d better put your trust in growth mutual funds. But Jesus says there is another way—the prophetic way—and even now he beckons for us to step out on the Word, to come together as one, and to exercise our gifts. Only then can we make peace with our neighbors, end the gun violence, and stop our addiction to division. Solidarity and compassion is love in action. [1] 

Author Margaret Swedish considers a spirituality of solidarity that begins with honoring the divine presence in each human being: 

“I believe that God gave us the greatest example of solidarity when God sent his son Jesus to live with us,” [Salvadoran refugee] Ernesto Martell says. “God gave us the dignity of living with Jesus among us.” … This is one of the pillars of a Christian spirituality of solidarity—belief in a God who became human like us and in so doing revealed the true dignity of each human being.  

What this means is that we must, first of all, be able to see the other, the human being next to us, or in a Salvadoran village, or in a refugee camp in Rwanda, as a person with value equal to our own. My life is no more valuable and worthy, of no greater or lesser significance, than that of this other human being. I am no more or less deserving. My rights are not more important than those of this person.… 

This spirituality starts in a painful place—with an acceptance of the fact that the world is broken and that we are broken. In this we find our deep bonds with the wounded ones of our world. And in that vulnerable place we find the heart of solidarity: compassion. [2] 

References:  

[1] Adapted from Barbara Holmes, “Solidarity and Compassion,” 2023 Daily Meditations: The Prophetic Path, Center for Action and Contemplation, April 11, 2023, video, 04:32.  

[2] Margaret Swedish and Marie Dennis, Like Grains of Wheat: A Spirituality of Solidarity (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2004), 145, 147. 

Image credit: A path from one week to the next—CAC Staff, Untitled, watercolor. Izzy Spitz, Field Study 2, oil pastel on canvas. Izzy Spitz, Everything at Once, digital oil pastel on canvas. Used with permission. Click here to enlarge image

Artist Statement (Izzy Spitz): “Chemistry of self” [collection of images] is a visual diary of varying emotions of my day-to-day life. It’s an act of presence in a world of existential overwhelm and grounding in the gifts of mundane life. 

Story from Our Community:  

I work for the Help Hotline in ____, making what we call “Telecare” calls. I have a list of 26 people that I call weekly. These are folks that are challenged, mentally or physically. They are frightened, in their last years…. I am amazed that for most of them, my disembodied voice is the closest thing to human contact that they have. As I get to know them, I realize more and more that they are people with the same hopes and dreams of us all. The difference is that many have lost a sense of their own voice and the understanding that they have choice in the world. As we become friends, I’m finding myself standing in greater solidarity with them. To me, they are no longer just voices, but real people with experiences like my own. I’m so grateful to God for this opportunity to share a bit of my life with them. —Brian K. 

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This year’s theme

The Prophetic Path

It can be easier to turn away from suffering than face it with an open heart. That’s why our 2023 Daily Meditations theme, The Prophetic Path, empowers us to not avoid or fear the pain of the world, but turn toward it with compassion.

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