Global Sisters Report: Critical Yeast for this Crucial Time

My latest column has been posted for the Global Sisters Report. The publication schedule means that my columns tend to be published about a month or so after I write them. Consequently, it's always an interesting exercise to re-read now what I thought then, and see what still resonates.

This month's column is religious life focused and offers a metaphor that I have found useful from John Paul Lederach's book The Moral Imagination: The Art & Soul of Building Peace, namely critical yeast.

Often times, when we find ourselves facing supposed impossibility, it is because we do not think that we have the critical mass needed to overcome the situation. ...
Lederach offers an alternative image to critical mass that he names critical yeast.Instead of asking a question about quantity, how many people, Lederach challenges us to ask who, which people, in this situation, “would have a capacity, if they were mixed and held together, to make things grow, exponentially, beyond their numbers?” (pg. 91). Put another way, what mix of people might make the good stuff of life grow and spread?
As I ponder the present reality and my hopes for the future of religious life, I find myself returning again and again to Lederach’s metaphor of critical yeast.  It has been especially helpful in imagining the path forward as we face a time of rapid demographic change and the small-scaling of North American religious life.
You can read my entire column at the Global Sisters Report. I also really recommend Lederach's book. It's almost 10 years old but it is so fresh and offers real creative invitations for thinking and acting in ways that build peace in the midst of our complex global realty.

Re-reading my column now that it's posted, having just come back from an incredible 3 weeks with community where the life, energy, and passion was palpable as we pondered ways to engage the needs of today in new ways through our charism of peace through justice , I find myself smiling.
In many ways, what we were about was embracing the power of critical yeast.

Now, to move forward together as community for mission and make the vision real!

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