My Lenten Reading 2021 – “Let Us Dream”
Like most people, I have been living in isolation for many months. I’ve been able to keep busy and occupied, thanks to physical spacing and tools such as Zoom. I’m occasionally asked what books are helpful for reflecting on this unusual period in human history.
One of the works I have been reading since Lent began is Pope Francis’, Let Us Dream – The Path to a Better Future. I originally heard about it through the regular Catholic media. But I was surprised by how many of my secular friends and acquaintances mentioned it and recommended it.
It is a superb reflection on the past year and how it is serving as an invitation for us to join in making the world safer, fairer, and healthier for all people.
The Covid crisis has exposed the cruelty and inequity of our society more clearly that ever before. It has also revealed the resilience, generosity and creativity of the human person. Francis is using the crisis to urge us to action, so that the tremendous suffering has not been in vain.
The Pontiff divides the book into three parts: a time to see, a time to choose, and a time to act. As usual, his style is personal and practical. The book’s title is drawn from the words of the Prophet Isaiah. Francis explains.
“This is a moment to dream big, to rethink our priorities – what we value, what we want, what to see – and to commit to act in our daily life on what we have dreamed of. What I hear at this moment is similar to what Isaiah hears God saying through him: Come let us talk this over. Let us dare to dream.”
Come let us talk this over. Let us dare to dream. The Pope’s hope is that we might come out of this crisis better. He says, “but we have to see clearly, choose well, and act right.”
A section of the book that I found especially helpful was his sharing on what he sees as personal Covids, those moments that render us ripe for change and conversion. He speaks of stoppages, such as illness, the failure of a marriage or a business, some great disappointment or betrayal.
He suggests that they generate a tension, a crisis that reveals what is in our hearts. Francis offers illustrations from the lives of Saul/Paul and King David. He goes on to speak of three Covids in his own life: his illness (leading to limit, pain and loneliness), Germany (the experience of displacement) and Córdoba (through the way in which he exercised Jesuit leadership).
Let us Dream is intensely personal and challenging. It is perfect Lenten reading as it invites us to look inward at ourselves, and outward to the world in which we live.
The book ends with a poem that moved Francis and millions of others. It is called Hope (Esperenza), by Alexis Valdés, a Cuban actor and comedian in Miami. https://www.kudos365.com/news/60761-when-the-storm-passes-esperanza-hope-poem-by-alexis-valdes