January is in the rearview mirror and my own new year’s resolutions are variously progressing or in deep jeopardy. New Year’s resolutions are very important to me and something I negotiate annually with my best friend Susan. I’ve made a slow start this year, and so it was quite humbling to read Mary Virginia Merrick’s spiritual diary on my way to visit the Tucson and Phoenix chapters in mid-January.
I read Miss Mary’s diary hoping to find some inspiration for the remarks I had been asked to make to both chapters. Both are focused on growing membership and a more robust leadership pipeline. Both are advancing in age and have lost members or are poised to shrink in the future if they don’t recruit new members to help with their solid programs. Clearly, whether of their own making or not, both are facing change.
The two biggest changes in Mary Virginia Merrick’s life were the injury that confined her to a recumbent wheelchair and the death of her parents, which left her with maternal responsibilities. Handling both were the focus of her self-criticism and aspirations in her spiritual diary. She had a bias for action–especially for Christ Child. She fought hard to be able to revive her body to do more for children, with the help of her doctors, but it was not to be. She was intent on creating a loving home for her younger siblings, but they did not always want or heed her guidance. Her diary is full of how she both tried to overcome and accept these challenges.
Each summer she made her own annual spiritual resolutions on retreat in the country. She set personal spiritual goals, focusing on improving her relationship with God, serving the poor, and being more loving to others–and checked progress over the year. Her writings remind us that we can do great things ourselves–with God’s help–and that sometimes we need to let God or others take the helm for us. “Fiat, fiat”, she would write: “Let it be.” It occurred to me that in the face of change there are always the change agents and those whose role is to let change be. And in life there are different times when we must play both roles. There I found inspiration for my remarks in Arizona.
What a joy it was to join virtually the entire Tucson chapter at their monthly luncheon meeting on a gloriously sunny Thursday. I was so impressed with the commitment and cohesiveness of this small group of 20+ women so dedicated to layettes and reading. I loved connecting with each member, strategizing how to grow membership, and discussing a variety of topics with their board. The future is theirs to capture, and it is clear Tucson is focused on recruiting new Christ Childers to take their mission forward!
In Phoenix, it was all about celebrating their 30 years as a chapter at a well-attended tea at the Mt. Claret Center. I loved the juxtaposition of the frilly teacup centerpieces and portrait of our next-to-be-canonized saint, Mother Theresa. It was wonderful to raise a teacup to the five past presidents of the Phoenix chapter in attendance. And wonderful to speak with two 40-something daughters of a current member about what it would take to bring her or her friends into Christ Child: activities that would provide volunteer opportunities for her junior and high school age kids, maybe knitting or packing layettes . . . ???
New approaches and new ideas should always stand together with appreciation of proven efforts in the past. Aren’t the key questions: who’s got the ideas and energy, who’s got the know-how, and how you can meld them together? That’s our leaders’ job right now and they(you) need our support. If you want to discuss this important issue, please make a comment here–or, of course, contact me directly . . .
HAPPY NEW YEAR!