Is anyone else tired of our how polarized and paralyzed our national politics have become? At a time when we desperately need creative leadership from the men and women we elect to office, I long for leaders who govern from the center of their being.
This is an inner spiritual reality, that part of each of us that carries God’s image, where we are connected to the infinite love God has for all creation. At the center of our being, we understand that we are all one family and that harm done to anyone or anything—including the Earth itself—is harm done to all. It is the part of us that knows we are loved just as we are, so we don’t have to demonize anyone or prop up our own ego and ambition at the expense of others.
Getting in touch with our true center changes the way we act in the world. It helps us roll up our sleeves and get down to what is actually needed: caring for others and caring for creation with skill, wisdom, and gentleness, as Pope Francis calls us to do in this Year of Mercy.
The path to the true center doesn’t run through polls and power politics, but through coming to grips with our vulnerability. According to sociologist Brené Brown, admitting our weaknesses and our fears is the key to courage and creativity and belonging—exactly the qualities we need in our leaders, when so much is at stake for our planet and all of its peoples.
Like most spiritual practice, though, this is easy to prescribe but hard to do. In fact, opening your heart and becoming more vulnerable can be utterly terrifying. Franciscan Father Richard Rohr teaches that gateways to vulnerability are great love, great suffering, and contemplative practice. None of these are for the faint of heart.
The great secret, as Saint Paul knew so well, is that the strength God gives us when we journey to the center of our weakness is the greatest power there is. It is the power of mercy, forgiveness, and humility. This is what tunes us in to God’s love for all creation. It is what we pray for from our leaders.