It’s summer. And the women in Caroline Center’s sixty-first class of career trainees are working hard, and with new-found confidence and hope, in preparation for their professional and clinical internships and the next important steps in their life’s journeys. They are so close to graduating, they can almost hear the applause. There is little that can stop them now, nothing that can hold them back from boldly stepping out into their new lives and careers as certified nursing assistants and pharmacy technicians.
It’s summer. And here’s the local news. The month of July is shaping up to be the most violent and deadliest in Baltimore in a quarter century. I am still trying to wrap my head around how it’s possible to go away for a weekend and come back home to news of 18 shootings in less than 48 hours and a pop-up “War Room” in the city (physical location and participants’ names undisclosed, by the way) that is supposed to help turn things around. I’m hopeful, but not convinced. And, I just can’t get used to the sound of the words war room – an unfortunate phrase, I think, in a city that’s trying to get everyone on board with “One Baltimore.”
It’s summer. And on my reading list, which I still keep in longhand on ruled paper, I am crossing out Go Set a Watchman and writing in Laudato Si’. Judging by the first few pages of Pope Francis’s encyclical, I think it’s a good swap. The Pope, apparently, is not a big fan of looking at social and environmental ills separately. One cannot separate environmental degradation from human suffering.
Everything is connected.
As I reflect on the courageous choice the women of Class 61 made – to seek positive change through education – and consider what life in Baltimore could be like sans a war room, this pearl of wisdom from Laudato Si’ is a good mantra – “We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it.” *
It’s summer. And I am awake late into the night following New Horizons and its unprecedented journey to Pluto. Turns out that reports from the solar system are a bit more uplifting than the nightly news. I feel overwhelmingly grateful to be alive – to be able to see what no earth-born being has seen before or may ever see again. The new science from this mission will be stunning. The philosophical implications are sure to be equally elegant, if not poetic. As I gaze in wonder at the remarkable first close-up photographs of Pluto, I have never been more convinced that human beings working together are capable of doing extraordinary things of great beauty. I can only hope that this part of our human story will not be lost to time.
Caroline Center’s Class 61. July in Baltimore. Reading Laudato Si’. Seeing the face of Pluto. Bold and courageous journeys can take many forms – from working toward graduation to developing strategies to improve a city; from righting injustices throughout the world to exploring the universe and beyond. It’s all connected by a thin line of hope that stretches farther than we can see and beyond what we can know to a “joyful mystery” that is within our reach.
*Laudato Si’, Chapter 6, Paragraph 229