At National Convention, it is tradition to have an Invocation before meals. For those unfamiliar, an Invocation is an introduction to a prayer or a moment of silence, especially one said at the beginning of a public ceremony.
At Carnation Banquet at the 2018 convention, the Invocation was given by Kerri Buchanan Montgomery, Delta Theta.
Everyone at Carnation Banquet would agree that Kerri’s words were heartfelt and deserve to be shared. Her words were incredibly moving and inspirational to all in attendance. Below is the Invocation Kerri delivered, along with the prayer that followed:
According to Simon Blackburn, an academic professor well versed in the philosophy of language, the Golden Rule “can be found in some form in almost every ethical tradition.”
Jesus teaches us the golden rule (Matthew 7:12) by saying, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Old Testament teachings (Leviticus 19:18) tell us; “but you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Our Buddhist friends say, “Hurt not others with that which pains yourself.” And those practicing Hinduism believe it essential to, “Do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you.”
And still, our Phi Mu Creed tells us…” to be to others what we would they would be to us.”
What is it about the Golden Rule that we keep having to be reminded of it?
We are taught to love one another AND ourselves because it’s important. And personally, I believe we need the extra reminder because it often does not come easily.
It doesn’t take long in watching the news ticker or your social media feed to see that the world around us is hurting. Mass casualty incidents abound and suicide rates are on the rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than half of the suicides documented in 27 states were committed by someone with no known mental health condition.
This is frightening because it tells me that those who are hurting are all around us. It could be anyone. It could be the sister sitting next to you. It could be you. It could be me.
So what can we do to combat these feelings; to help during difficult times? What can we do to help a friend, a sister, a co-worker, a family member, or someone we randomly encounter in our day-to-day life. How can we use the Golden Rule to make our world a more loving and endurable place?
The ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu writes, “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
So I think the first place to start (and for me, the least over-whelming place to begin,) is to simply acknowledge that you are precious and loved. (And some days that will take all the effort you have.)
Ethical traditions wouldn’t incorporate “to love a neighbor as yourself”- if the “yourself” part wasn’t necessary or important. The Golden Rule would just be:
Love your neighbor.
But that’s not what it says- the charge is to love thy neighbor as thyself. Meaning that each of us as individuals is important. Remember that loving yourself gives you courage.
So I challenge you for whatever season you are in; be kind to yourself. Acknowledge that trials and pitfalls and failings are NOT indicative of the person you are. They are simply part of the broken world in which we live. The trials of our individual journeys are what creates us. Give yourself the grace to say and do the wrong thing; knowing that you are trying and no one gets it right every single time.
Secondly, look to our Founders as a guide. Start by looking locally and start small. Mary, Mary, and Martha did not found Phi Mu with the intention or forethought that we would gather here today, 166 years later. Mary, Mary, and Martha did not start out with visions of grandeur to become a premier women’s organization, to dance all night For The Kids, or to educate over 600 leaders each year. No. They founded a club to help them navigate a man’s world on a campus that granted the first degrees to women. When they began the Philomathean Society what fear they must have had; but their uncertainty was not as big as their desire for sisterhood, friendship, or creating a place with a sense of belonging. A place- where above all others- they were accepted, they were loved, and they were challenged. And now look at us…
Starting small doesn’t mean that the impact will be small.
Thirdly- Let us not focus on the things that truly do not matter so that we can challenge ourselves to improve and make better that which we can change, using our Creed as our guide.
Be content. Now, is this advice that women are never given?! Being content is not a bad word. I believe that Theodore Roosevelt was on to something when he famously said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
We need to get off social media and get social. We are more connected together today than ever before in our history, and yet we are more lost.
We are missing opportunities to love and be loved because we’re too busy comparing and contrasting ourselves with the Joneses.
Our Founders did not look at the men on their campus and say:
“They’re having all the fun!”
“They won’t let me participate!”
“They think I’m less than!”
They were content to gather together, the small handful of them, to write poetry, act out plays, and to discuss their lessons.
They started locally, they dreamed small, and they became that FIRST ripple of kindness in that community. Humble beginnings based on values are ALWAYS lasting.
Continue to make Phi Mu the place it was intended to be.
I’m trying to raise my children to be empathetic and to think of others in the selfish and fast-paced world in which we live.
As a Stay-At-Home-Mom, I am quick to listen to the tiny voice in my head that roars:
“You are not doing the important work!”
“You should do something more!”
“There’s more value in the working world!”
But then I practice saying:
“Not today, not today!”
Today, I’m trying to teach my children to OBSERVE when someone is in need. I do not want to TELL them to help; because I won’t always be there to guide them and because I want lending a helping hand to become innate within them.
Instead of teaching them to recite, “I’m sorry,” if a friend is crying or they push one another down, I teach them to say:
“What can I do to make it better?”
I honestly do not believe that a four-year-old and a two-year-old have the capabilities of “being sorry.” And rather than have them recite empty words for practice, I want them to practice OBSERVING what someone in need looks like and how to OFFER HELP to those who are hurting.
My littles certainly have the ability to hear crying, to see a distressed face, to see that someone is hurt, or that something is wrong. They are capable of asking questions, assisting a friend in standing back up and offering a tissue.
Now, I am not a perfect mother; but I’m putting forth my best effort to quiet that roaring voice in my head and declare that for me- I AM doing the important work. I am dreaming small and I want to be the first ripple of kindness that my children then show to others. I can be intentional and teach my children to keep their lives gentle, merciful, and just.
Our Creed challenges me daily to live the Golden Rule and to esteem the inner man.
I challenge you to acknowledge, accept, and love yourself. I challenge you to acknowledge, accept, and love your neighbor.
I challenge me. I challenge us.
Please pray with me or reflect as you wish:
Our perfect and loving Father.
Our grace-giving Father.
Help us. Hold us.
Be louder than the voice of condemnation in our heads that tells us that we are small, weak, unworthy, and incapable- for we are not.
We are loving, faithful, honorable truth-seekers.
Help us to keep our promises.
Help remind us of what is important.
Help us to dream small; to have contentment and a sense of peace.
Help us to give grace and get grace.
Bless this meal and the hands that prepared it. Bless us as we travel from this place.
Guard our hearts and minds as we work together in the coming biennium.
Remind us that we here are not just friends, but we are sisters…and that means so much more.
Remind us to love ourselves and one another.