By Sister Sue Scharenberger, OSU

Fairly certain that I was not alone in my “angst” since the elections in November, I began looking for support for my concerns for our country and what would come with January 20th and the inauguration of a “new era”, I thought. Then came January 6th. I felt frozen in fright!

“Can’t be,” I thought. Again, knowing I could not be alone in what I was thinking, observing, feeling, I pursued explanations, analysis and  commentary. Sadness and anger were added to fear.

Then came the blaming, accusing, and more reasons for what happened.

Nothing satisfied, however.

Again,  sure that once into a new presidency, and especially with such an uplifting inaugural ceremony, I soothed my anger and fear with “This will go away soon.” “They” will go away soon.

Then within the week came the feast of Angela Merici. And praying the Liturgy of the Hours from the Ursuline Book of Prayer by Cheryl Clemmons, OSUMSJ, I was immediately immersed in other messages, so familiar, and so easily forgotten: “I am continually among you with the Lover of us all,” “My last word…that you live in harmony, united, one heart and one will…bound to one another by bonds of charity, esteeming, helping, bearing with.…”

Yes, lover of us ALL. I think that means ALL. Everyone. No one is left out.

I felt my circle of those who are “in” begin to expand. Somehow those whose ideas I wanted to make disappear, go away, or silence, needed to be brought into my circle because ALL means those folks as well.

I cannot explain the change that came over me in that moment of what I can now call “conversion”, but what I do know is that my circle is expanding. Living in harmony, especially for those who have received such a rich inheritance from Angela means staying present to, no matter how difficult, the ones who perhaps have felt excluded, left out of somebody’s circle.

I recalled immediately two quotes that I have often used in working with groups dealing with conflict. The first is attributed to Abraham Lincoln who said, “The best way to change your enemy is to make them your friend.”

And the second came from my high school literature book and the quote is anonymous:

“He (she) drew a circle that left me out.

Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.

But love and I had the wit to win,

We drew a circle that took him(her) in.”

I don’t  presume easy answers to such complex problems that we face as a country, but I do believe that I/we can make a difference by making “friends” of those “others,” expanding our circles existentially  and consciously. I generally feel that violence happens in word or in deed when people feel excluded for whatever reason. So, expanding my circle makes it just a little bit easier to “reach across the aisle,” or even make the aisle disappear so that the circle is continuous and holds the Lover of us All.