Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Week to Remember in St. Louis- Barbara Marx Hubbard and LCWR

The Sisters of Saint Joseph and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious have a unique and valued relationship with Barbara Marx Hubbard, the renowned futurist who was the keynote speaker at the historic LCWR meeting last week in St. Louis.  Through her relationship with Sr. Judy Cauley, CSJ, a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph, Barbara has learned lots about us and about religious life.  Barbara honored us when she stopped by at an evening gathering of the Sisters of St. Joseph attending LCWR.
Sr. Judy Cauley, CSJ and Barbara Marx Hubbard

In her presentation at LCWR, many Sisters of St. Joseph took note of her frequent use of “our catch phrases” such as the “more,” not separating ourselves from our “neighbors,” and “generous promises”.  One of her closing statements addressed to LCWR was that “I really see you as pilgrims, pioneers evolving into the more.”

In her LCWR presentation, in an emotionally powerful, upbeat mode, Barbara Marx Hubbard shared her growing understanding of the transformative power of evolving consciousness.  She told us that, "We have come together at the most critical time in the history of humanity...our systems are not sustainable as is...we face radical breakdown or through innovation, creativity and love- a breakthrough. She noted that we can no longer return to our prior pre-crisis state...we will either breakdown or break through- we will evolve or we will become extinct.  Many of us could easily see the connections to the LCWR crisis of the doctrinal assessment.

Barbara reflected back to us the characteristics and capacities that she sees in women religious that manifest the type of leadership that a breakthrough requires.  Characteristics such as deep gospel living in the model of Jesus, engaging mysticism, being faithful in seeking out and meeting unmet needs are ideals for which we strive.   Solidarity with the earth, being whole-makers and risk takers for the sake of the mission are values which we try to live.  Social entrepreneurship, being  faithful to dialogue and discernment,  speaking truth to power, and commitment to seeking the more, what Ilia Delio calls "the God ahead in an ever evolving world”, are capacities we have tried to develop and be faithful to for years.   

In speaking about women religious she said we were “the best seedbed to the evolving church and the world.”  She noted that new things always happen in unexpected places. Further quoting Ilia, she said, "Evolution opens a window to the Divine Mystery." She spoke about the power we have to choose to destroy the world or become co-creators. She gave us three points for consideration:
1) Crisis precedes transformation,
2) Problems are evolutionary drivers- they help us see what is possible, and
3) Nature takes parts and through synergy, the broken parts of systems and fragments can become more than the sum of the parts.

I was especially impressed when she shared that the type of leaders we need today are those who handle the emergencies and facilitate what is the emergent new.

Barbara shared her experience at the Democratic National Convention in 1984 when her name was placed in nomination for the Vice Presidential of the United States.  At the convention she  spoke of her wish to create  a “Peace Room” as well equipped and staffed as the current US “War Room”.  It would be able to map, track and connect what is working in the world to create emergent, loving societies.  She identifies this as the most important speech she ever gave.  She then went on to say that of the hundreds of speeches she has given, her address at LCWR was the second most important.   

She then shared with us that as we cultivate evolutionary leadership, what will emerge is new relationships, new social entrepreneurial forms of service, new centers of communication and new ways for our charisms to thrive.  She encouraged us to turn to one another, to form hubs of co-creativity, to expand our networks for a co-creative society and to trust the co-creative process.  She stated, “The future is the primary dwelling place of the God ahead.”

Throughout her talk, Barbara made frequent references to scripture, especially St. Paul, the work of Teilhard de Chardin and other Catholic theologians.  In the end, she encouraged us to see the recent doctrinal assessment as an act of grace.  “It opens up the more, the potentiality of women and this is precisely what the world needs now,” she said.  “Your deep commitments to your charisms and your generous promises are a global agenda for the evolution of the world,” she added.  She challenged us to make our cooperation and compassion more visible in the world.  We need to overcome divisiveness and move away from fragmented either/or points of view.  She expressed great interest in our processes of self- governance where leadership and direction are found by having the largest possible sharing, including everyone.   Expanding openness of communication, sharing leadership and spirituality is what the world is deeply missing.

It was a wonderfully inspiring and challenging week at LCWR.

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