In the spirit of Black History Month, my family and I have been reading about Anna Julia Cooper, the 4th African American woman to earn a doctorate, something she accomplished in 1924. Anna Julia Cooper was as fearless as she was powerful, as sublime as she was effortless in her discussions not only on the plight of black women in general, but the need for women to attain higher education. The professor in me is always alert to women who paved the way for me to call myself a professor. Women like Anna Julia Cooper, with her profound book ‘ A Voice from the South’ which urged black women to not be mute or voiceless, but happily expectant and ready to add our voice to the experiment and experience we call America. One statement she wrote in the book that made me alert is: ‘Woman, Mother, your responsibility is one that might make angels tremble.’ This statement was eloquent then as it is perfect for me today. I look forward to the future always with zeal, knowing that the many words of Anna Julia Cooper will be my guide. Keep her in mind.
I participated in a guided reflection today. My first one ever at a university level system. The Catholic in me was excited given it’s grounding in the Jesuit philosophy. It was what my soul needed. We were told to reflect on the challenges ahead, to think of specific concrete things, it’s origins, told to give our anxieties names, and intentionally take the time to understand where it comes from. We were told to think about the things we find challenging. We were asked to allow ourselves to be rigorously honest to the moment. Then beyond the challenges, we were asked to give time to the hopefulness, to opportunities, to joy, to experiences, including things and places that bring us joy. We were asked to think about concrete specific things that bring us joy and light, to dwell on it, on the stillness of those things, those moment too. We also spent time playing out in our minds what might come when we choose hope. Told to give more energies to those conversations that bring hope, joy. How might we engage in those moments to give more voice to opportunities, and spaces that allow us to thrive even in the midst of challenges. Then we concluded with gratitude on the insights and knowledge we have been given about ourselves, insights that were challenging but hopeful, insights that allowed us to know ourselves more deeply. Gratitude, also for being still in the moment to fully understand ourselves.
This is at the core of who Jesuits are. It is also a commitment to a hopeful realism, one that allows us to come to know ourselves better. Ignatius called it a spiritual exercise. It was all about making sure we exercise our spiritual world however we choose to define it and even as it relates to work. Like I said, my soul truly needed this moment. Keep guided reflections.