When I came to Duke in 2010, I was alarmed by the number of meetings that were on my predecessor’s calendar. Do I really need to spend this much time in meetings? With a few keystrokes, I cleared my calendar of some of those meetings and thought myself a rebel with a cause – to be in less meetings. Here I sit 12 years later with my calendar rather full of meetings – it must be in the air on campus! And to make matters worse, my boss the Pope, just decided that the entire Catholic Church should spend the next two years having meetings about meetings (Synod 2021-23)! Is there no relief??
It is interesting that the aforementioned Synod 2021-23 is a call for local Catholics to give voice to their experience of faith in the Church. So often we see ourselves as so many grains of sand on a very large beach. Our presence (or lack thereof) means little and our voice means even less. And yet Pope Francis’ call for this moment of communal reflection is an affirmation of the need for all voices to speak and for all voices to be heard by each other. It is hard to do that without meeting, it is even harder to do that without valuing my own voice as well as the voice of others.
The pandemic has taught us much, but one lesson that we seem to have mis-learned (at least in the realm of religious practice), is that the human endeavor is not made to be engaged virtually. Zoom meetings are great, but the human person craves human presence. We are made to meet in person. For those of us who believe we have a voice that should be heard must also reflect on the need to have our presence felt. Sunday Mass is the ultimate “Meeting about a Meeting” – it brings us together to be in communion with each other to listen to/experience the meeting of God and humanity. May we rethink the ways in which this communal meeting has been, or, is so easily deleted from our calendars. The first step to listening to each other is showing up!
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