It is with mixed emotion that I received the news of the pope’s resignation. Though I have not been a fan of his pulpit and cathedra, I can only imagine (and then not even fully) how challenging, exhausting, and soul wrenching this discernment process was and is for him.
In his statement, Benedict shares that his decision was based on health reasons, both spiritual and physical—recognizing his own limitations of being able to address questions have shaken him and that are shaking the church. I wonder what these questions are…I certainly have my own list of queries that could cause a serious shake up, yet we can only speculate and must be comfortable with not fully knowing what has challenged him to make this bold decision. Perhaps he realized that the world is not black and white, and that the church needs to embrace and thrive within rainbows and borderlands—an epiphany that he may need to address simply as Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger and not as the Bishop of Rome. I pray and hope that he is able to wrestle and live into the answers to these shaking producing questions along with all of us who are on the journey and in the struggle.
I believe his resignation reflects courage and a prophetic lesion for all of us: as people we must be grounded in who we are and in our faith, however one chooses to understand and embody “faith.” We need to be integrated beings; finding ways for our identities, even when in conflict, to incarnate wholeness. Despite his attacks on those of us who live beyond the norm, I am thankful to “Benny” for challenging me to rediscover and reclaim my voice, my body, my spirit, my GOD-given chutzpah. He has taught me the importance of grounding my zeal for a church and society that celebrates all people in a faith life that nourishes, challenges, supports, and holds me in my complicated yet sacred beingness. As a Jesuit junkie, his resignation speaks to “contemplation and action”, a balancing act that is truly a conundrum and an ongoing lesson of experimentation with the Divine (need to integrate more contemplation into my actions and that gives fruit through actions).
I think that we often get so caught up in the work that we forget to take care of our whole selves, we lose sight due to burn out of what grounds us. May we learn from his example and seek to live a life of integrated wholeness. May the feast of the Transfiguration inspire us each day to re-member and reveal who we are to the world just as Jesus did—revealing to those with him integrated wholeness and an embodiment of how to thrive in the borderland of identities. May Benedict’s own words serve as a reminder to himself and to all of us, that we are never alone in our everyday struggle to make sense of GOD who both whispers and shouts our divine plan…“If you follow the will of God, you know that in spite of all the terrible things that happen to you, you will never lose a final refuge. You know that the foundation of the world is love, so that even when no human being can or will help you, you may go on, trusting in the One that loves you.”
feature image from: http://www.catholicnews.org.uk/Home/News-Releases/2012/Pope-s-Christmas-Message