In his fine book, Repair My House, Capuchin Franciscan environmental economist Michael Crosby reminds us that when Francis of Assisi heeded the call to “Repair My house, for you can see it is falling into ruin,” he took the command literally and repaired the dilapidated San Damiano church.
However, he quickly realized that it is was also the haughty, misguided and “sinful” structures of our institutions that needed to be repaired, and our relationship with the wider world of creation that needed to be restored. Crosby recounts a conversation he had with a woman at a spiritual retreat center who reminded him that his calling or charism was to repair the “church,” which is not just a list of faithful members, but a healthy functioning human community nested in our earthly home (oikia).
To do that, we must repair, redirect and reform our economy (oikonomia) which has become destructive on so many fronts that it is disrupting the ecology (oikologia) of our plant—the relationships we have with the other-than-human world.
This is a long roundabout way of reminding all of us that we need to acknowledge that our American institutions are in ruin as never before: our government’s current administration pitifully unresponsive to the needs of the poor and of refugees; our Republican and Democratic parties, both tattered and scattered more than at any point during our lifetimes; and our religious institutions, with more people fleeing from their out-of-step and sometimes oppressive bureaucracies that running toward their graces.
What am I asking of you: to take seriously question of what YOUR CALLING might be. Is it to repair old homes for the poor or dilapidated schools and churches? Is to reform our government and our religious institutions? Is it to reduced waste polluting our streams and landfills, restore wildlife habitats or the regenerative capacity of our streams, farms, orchards and ranchland? Is it to help heal those stuck in our hospitals, asylums, prisons and nursing homes?
Now is the time to figure out what your personal role will be for the next four years in repairing our home: I don’t care which task you choose, but take out your saw, your hammer, your garden trowel, your guitar, your suture thread and needle, and repair our house, our oikos, to a healthy order!