The Shining Word “And”

January 13, 2010

Lately, I have been pondering the words “either/or” and “both/and”.  I often find myself in situations where “either/or” does not always seem to be the answer.  It is not either motherhood or professional development.  It is not either one relationship or another.  It is not either only my my way of thinking or only someone else’s way of thinking.  There are more and more times where I am finding the answer is “both/and”.  It can be both motherhood and developing myself professionally.  It can be both relationships.  It can be both thoughtful insights. 

The “both/and” situations, though, are harder to grasp sometimes and wrap our heads around.  I find in “both/and” situations things do not always fit so nicely in little boxes. 

Someone shared this poem with me recently from Fr. Richard Rohr, O.F.M. It has made me think even more about that little word “and”. 

And allows us to be both/and
And keeps us from either/or
And teaches us to be patient and long suffering
And is willing to wait for insight and integration
And keeps us from dualistic thinking
And does not divide the field of the moment
And helps us to live in the always imperfect now
And keeps us inclusive and compassionate toward everything
And demands that our contemplation become action
And insists that our action is also contemplative
And heals our racism, sexism, heterosexism, and our classism
And keeps us from the false choice of liberal or conservative
And allows us to critique both sides of things
And allows us to enjoy both sides of things
And is far beyond any one political party
And helps us face and accept our own dark side
And allows us to ask forgiveness and to apologize
And is the mystery of paradox in all things
And is the way of mercy
And makes daily, practical love possible
And does not trust love if is is not also justice
And does not trust justice if it is not also love
And is far beyond my religion versus your religion
And allows us to be both distinct and yet united
And is the mystery of Jesus of History and the Christ of Faith
And is the very Mystery of the Trinity
Where in our lives do we need to apply that little word “and”? 

Becky is an Ignatian-trained spiritual director, retreat facilitator, and writer. She is the author of the Busy Lives and Restless Souls (March 2017, Loyola Press) and The Inner Chapel (April 2020, Loyola Press). She helps others create space to connect faith and everyday life through facilitating retreats and days of reflection, through writing, and through spiritual direction. With nearly twenty years of ministry experience within the Catholic Church, Becky seeks to help others discover God at work in the every day moments of people’s lives by utilizing St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises and the many gifts that our Catholic faith and Ignatian Spirituality provide.

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