Regardless of where you sit on the political and ideological spectrum, this has been a challenging year. As we enter the holiday season, it’s difficult for many people to call up the sorts of feelings we typically associate with Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas. Gratitude, anticipation, hope, and joy. Who has the energy for that?
We get it. We feel your malaise.
Still, there’s something to be said for the way seasonal and liturgical cycles demand that we reach beyond whatever funk we might find ourselves in to stir in ourselves and others a sense of possibility, of optimism, even. The trick, it seems, is to do that without resorting to tired, Little Mary Sunshine bromides. The last thing we need in these times is a big side of cold comfort with our turkey and dressing. So, we’ve challenged our contributors this month to dig deep into the darkness to find glimmers of light for which we might just be thankful.
“Love of God is pure when joy and suffering inspire an equal degree of gratitude,” Simone Weil insisted. In the first article in this issue of Bearings, G. Jeffrey MacDonald puts that idea to the test in “Practicing Gratitude as Healing” through the stories of people who have found ways to seek hope, healing, and, yes, gratitude out of profound suffering and trauma. Through the month, the compelling stories of healing and transformation Jeff shares in Bearings will be amplified by the Rev. Ron Culmer of St. Clare’s Episcopal Church in Pleasanton, California and Professor Darleen Pryds of the Franciscan School of Theology at the University of San Diego. And, as always, The BTS Center Scholar-in-Residence Pamela Shellberg will close the issue with characteristically rich fodder for reflection and conversation. For that, surely, we can give a little thanks.
And, speaking of thankfulness: We’re grateful this month at Bearings for the addition of a new team member, Nick Nagy. A junior in religious studies and political science at Santa Clara University, Nick has joined Bearings as an editorial assistant. When he’s not making sure “a lot” is spelled as two words, putting all the Oxford commas in place, and wrangling compelling photos for each article, Nick is engaged by the confluence of politics and religion; peace building through religion; Islam, Christian, and Catholic theologies; Catholic-Islamic relations; philosophy and religion; religion and nature; and eschatology. For starters. We’re very thankful to have his sparkling mind, calm demeanor, and eagle-eyes here at Bearings.