"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
Because Plan A is the ‘go to’ option. Plan A suggests ‘know how’: Plan B smells of suffering and failure. Any sports tragic will tell you why they lost: we had no Plan B! ‘You have to lose one to win one,’ is the truism most heard in the month of footy finals. But why? Because to acknowledge failure is to humbly admit one is not in control, and hence, as Richard Rohr reminds us, ‘suffering of some sort seems to be the only thing strong enough to destabilise our arrogance and ignorance.’
Paradoxically, in week two of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, St Ignatius challenges the retreatant to voluntarily submit to the pain of Plan B by transforming it into their Plan A ‘go to’ option. Week two of the Spiritual Exercises is about committing to living out Christ’s lifestyle, hence the ‘Two Standards’ exercise confronts retreatants with a stark choice: conform to ‘the way the enemy of our human nature enslaves us,’ or humbly live out ways ‘other than those of instinct and convention.’
Refugee advocacy attracted my attention and as the centre dedicated to the cause is named after my favourite social justice saint, Oscar Romero, I had little option but to follow my heart. The journey of ascent / descent had begun.
Snippets of my advocacy at the Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation Centre (BITA) will give an insight into the tragedy / joy of my experience.
•BITA 2007. Open gated temporary accommodation on Sugarmill Rd Pinkenba for asylum seekers.
Gradually the conditions became more restrictive. Access was less easy, interpreters no longer provided and prison like structures installed.
Frustratingly, despite my application of numerous Plan B’s, the prospect of ‘winning one,’ of seeing the peaceful resettlement of people lawfully seeking asylum remains a distant goal. It is with regret and painful realisation that I have come to accept Richard Rohr’s ‘truism’ that, in human history very little is really resolved or solved, settled or answered. The challenge is to accept the significance of ‘my story,’ within the framework of ‘our story’ in Australia, to achieve social justice for what is always true in the great patterns of ‘the story,’ the components of which make up what Richard Rohr has called the ‘cosmic egg.’ Superficially it is ego deflating to accept St Ignatius’s call to “humbly live out ways ‘other than those of instinct and convention.’" But in the bigger picture, the greater pattern, faith, as Oscar Romero reminds us, is acknowledging that, ‘we are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs.’
(Images by Steve Jorgensen, Michelle Smith (Brisbane Times) and https://www.globaldetentionproject.org/, main image from Pixabay by sciencefreak)