By Tammy Townsend Denny, TI Executive Director
In the book The Theresian Story, our founder Msgr. Elwood Voss and our first executive director Patricia Mullen write that the education dimension of our Five Dimensions “calls for a spirit of openness so that members are willing to look at all sides of issues, avoiding the pitfalls that result from tunnel vision and closed minds” (p. 40). They go on to say that “this kind of dialog helps create great respect for the thinking and opinions of others regardless of personal viewpoints and convictions” (pp. 49-50).
In our document “Thinking About Consensus Decision Making,” written by longtime Theresian Judy Rolke, Theresian VII Community, Houston, Texas, we learn that as Theresians we strive to “take the time to sift through and narrow down ideas in light of our mission and charism.” We don’t force decisions but rather we “listen carefully to each and every member, especially seeking out and welcoming those holding ‘differing’ ideas.” We commit ourselves to discussions and discernment that will “draw out the quiet member” while remembering to “discuss underlying assumptions.”
And we do all of this with great love! In the words of our patroness St. Therese of Lisieux, “Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.”
I invite each of you to pause and ponder what “a spirit of openness” means to you. Are you suffering from tunnel vision, convinced that there is only one right way to do something? Or are you listening and welcoming the thoughts of others in your community, especially when they differ from your thoughts? Are you offering kind words of love, even when you disagree with your Theresian sisters?
I also ask that you take four minutes out of your day to watch the video below: “How You Treat People Is Who You Are” (credit to Sr. Danielle Jacob, CSFN, for bringing the video to my awareness). Are you an example of Theresian kindness and integrity, compassion and understanding in the world today? Or do you have some room for growth in those areas?
Who will you be kind to today?