I am speaking as a settler on this ʻaina or land of Oʻahu. I trace my own familyʻs roots to Germany and England. I acknowledge that this island is part of the larger territory recognized by Indigenous Hawaiians as their ancestral grandmother, Papahānaumoku.
I recognize that her majesty Queen Lili‘uokalani yielded the Hawaiian Kingdom and these territories under duress and protest to the United States to avoid the bloodshed of her people. I further recognize that Hawai‘i remains an illegally occupied state of America.
We gather this evening and afternoon, at tables or computers, around a marking of time. A span of ten years or more. Different than marking a space or an idea or a belief, though those are present to, what calls us together tonight is time. A shared decade or decades from when the vows or commitments to this community were uttered in tongue and heart. From what I understand Jubilees generally begin at an anniversary of 25 years. I recognize the generosity and celebratory nature of the CSJ community to begin the celebrations at 10 and 20 years.
A lot happens in 10 years and we have all shared the past 10 years by living through them.
Here are some reminders of headlines. In 2013, the federal government finally recognized gay marriage. George Zimmerman was acquitted in the killing of 17 year-old and unarmed Trayvon Martin. In 2014 the Ebola virus breakout in West Africa became a global health crises. The Ferguson riots erupted in Missouri. 2015 marked the Paris Climate Agreement, and Pope Francis released his Laudato Siʻ. Donald Trump was elected to the U.S. Presidency in 2016, and in 2017 women marched on Washington D.C. to protect womenʻs rights, many wearing pink pussy hats. 2018 brought the nomination and appointment of Justice Kavanaugh and the igniting of the #MeToo movement. In 2019 Greta Thunberg led the Global Climate Strike. In 2020 George Floyd was killed, a global pandemic erupted and Joe Biden was elected to the U.S. presidency. A U.S. Capitol insurrection marked the beginning of 2021. The Covid19 pandemic continued, and protests erupted in Minneapolis and around the country focused on police brutality and racism in relationship to the killing of George Floyd. Russian-Ukrainian relations became more strained in 2022, which finally became a war. At the beginning of this year, the war continues, the pandemic is easing and here we are today.
Amid these global and national events, our own lives and the lives of those closest to us unfolded. In the U.S., many of us learned how make masks and to wear them. We muddled through odd pandemic rules, like folding and reusing masks amid global shortages. We learned how to use Zoom or are still learning, which weirdly involves coming across your own face in conversation. We reconnected with dear ones across the world. Perhaps we felt and feel the loss of the proximity of people and the real sense of shared space, sharing the same air, hearing the same winter sounds, feeling the winter temperature, sharing the feel of snow or rain or sun on skin. We gather, together, but differently and distantly. Or perhaps we have always gathered this way.
And perhaps there have been more personal and significant markers of this decade—a transition between vocations, the loss of a loved one or dear members of this community, good health or health struggles, hospital visits or hospital stays, a broken heart, a new relationship, a new grandchild or cousin, personal challenges or the rest of an easier decade of life. Where has life carried you these ten years? Through what have you come? And how have you made it to this table or this computer on this night?
Life is not lived in decades. As the theme for this Jubilee reminds us, it unfolds in moments, in days, day by day. “Joseph met deep losses with deepest care. Perhaps, not immediately—but day by day.” Philosophers , poets, and mystics suggest that time folds back on itself. We enter infinity in each moment. In this moment returning to our past and living in our future.
I think of the many moments over this past decade, at times reeling from national or global news, when I have whispered to myself the charism of the CSJ community: love of God and neighbor without distinction. In wondering how to meet in a moment the person in front of me, I am reminded of the holy, this one made in the image of the sacred, born from star and light and sacred dark, held in the promise of a tradition, my tradition, our tradition, that death does not have the final word. Life rises. This spirit rises in each new moment, born of the past, and born again into the future.
And so I suggest this Jubilee not be a marker of a decade gone by, however celebratory the anniversary, but one of a new moment born from history and the future. Our charism renewed for this moment, rising anew in this moment, as it has risen to occasion in the past and will rise again in the future. Love of God. Love of neighbor. Day by day with deepest care.
April 17th, 2023