Jutta Shaw has recently taken on the leadership of SoulStream’s Contemplative Response to the World initiative.
Jutta offers her own story this morning and for the month of September has invited three other Partners to tell their stories, too, about their own contemplative responses to the world. Thank you, Jutta for this gift of vulnerability and for your leadership.
The role of the leader of the CRW is to:
- invite Partners to awaken to what their contemplative response is, and perhaps could be, as a natural outflow of their life in God;
- invite Partners to share their stories of how they are bringing healing to the world through their everyday actions;
- celebrate Partners’ current engagement in healing and caring for the world;
- encourage participation in responses together with other Partners who share similar awakenings; and
- guide Partners in wondering/discerning together how we might respond to certain issues as a community.
As the role suggests, the CRW can be all-encompassing. This is reflected in the introduction today and in the contemplative responses that I have invited three Partners to share on the next three Fridays of September. The PartnerConnects range from in-the-moment responses to daily events to reflections on colonialism and white privilege. I hope that you will be inspired to dwell on your own contemplative responses to the world, and perhaps share them with us.
One of my first experiences as leader of the CRW, was to assist in organizing the SoulStream Liturgy for the Renunciation of the Doctrine of Discovery. This was also one of the first times that SoulStream has responded to an issue as a community. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the liturgy took place virtually via Zoom on June 11, 2020. Close to 30 Partners participated in what most found to be a meaningful event.
Since this is my first PartnerConnect as Leader of the CRW Initiative, I thought that I would share a bit more of my background and a few of my contemplative awarenesses. I have been interested in social justice issues for a long time. I remember that one of the first organizations that I supported when I was at the University of Calgary was the “Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals” in British Columbia. I was also motivated to act on broader societal issues such as income inequality, poverty, and homelessness. This seemed to be consistent with my new Christian faith. I also thought that to get to the heart of these issues, I should study political science and economics. I went on to earn a Master’s degree in Public Policy and work for the federal government for over 20 years.
Identifying as a one on the Enneagram has been illuminating. Recently, I have come across some descriptions of my personality type according to the Myers-Briggs framework, which also seem to really fit. As an “INFJ”, I can be known as an “advocate”, someone who has an inborn sense of idealism and morality. An advocate “always needs to have a cause” and likes to know that “they are taking concrete steps toward their goals” (from the 16Personalities website). This helps me to understand why I have almost always been involved in efforts to alleviate poverty, promote reconciliation with Indigenous people, care for the environment, improve conditions in developing countries, or similar matters. At the same time, I am prone to exhaust myself in short order, if I don’t find a way to balance my ideals with the realities of day-to-day living.
When Doug was interviewing me for the position of Leader of the CRW last April, he commented that action and contemplation are known to be important in responding to social justice concerns, and he asked me where I would place myself on the action and contemplation continuum. I laughed and said, “action”. However, I feel that contemplative practices have become my way of balancing my ideals with the realities of day-to-day living. I more easily recognize the compulsive aspects of my personality, and understand that, no matter how well-meaning, action frequently comes with many unforeseen and unintended consequences.
I am inspired by a recently discovered Meister Eckhart quotation:
The outward work will never be puny if the inward work is great. And the outward work can never be great or even good if the inward one is puny or of little worth. The inward work invariably includes in itself all expansiveness, all breadth, all length, all depth. Such a work receives and draws all it’s being from nowhere else except from and in the heart of God.
(From Christian Mystics (2011), Matthew Fox, p. 144.)