Saying My Piece

At the last library board meeting, a town official assigned to represent the interests of the library at municipal meetings – and represent municipal interests at library meetings – spoke without care or preparation, showing an appalling lack of information of and appreciation for the vital role our public library plays in this town. She dodged questions about the future of the library, clearly unable to answer even the most basic of them. She changed the subject, moving the focus from library concerns to playgrounds and trash pick-up (both vital to the town, but not the responsibility of the library board). When asked what the value and role of the library would be in ten years, she said, “I see no value for it.”

When I am faced with unprofessional behavior in someone who should know better, how do I act with compassion and also advocate for one of the most vital institutions in my town?

It’s a difficult thing, sometimes almost impossible, to extend help and compassion to someone whose actions hurt others. It’s also the only way forward. Treating someone with contempt, even in reaction to being treated with contempt, won’t foster positive change. Whether I like it or not (and I don’t like it!), the only way forward is to act with kindness and patience.

It’s a lesson that keeps coming up. Saying my piece must be saying my peace. Until I learn this by heart, it will keep coming.

Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others.

Prayer at the Beginning of the Day, Philaret of Moscow

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I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

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