by Jeff Tanner, ECCU Vice President of Marketing
(Originally published as a post within ECCU’s former e-publication, The Buzz.)

“We are living through the greatest crisis in the history of man; and this crisis is centered precisely in the country that has made a fetish out of action and has lost (or perhaps never had) the sense of contemplation. Far from being irrelevant, prayer, meditation, and contemplation are of the utmost importance in America today.”

—Thomas Merton

When Merton penned these words during the turbulence of the 1960s, he could not have imagined the speed and flow of information that assaults us today with the message that we need more to be happy—bigger homes, better cars, clearer televisions to divert our focus from reality—and more money to make it all happen.

Now, at the peak of this cultural shift toward entitlement, the financial system is crashing all around us. Our response as a nation? Act. Immediately. We don’t have the patience or fortitude to encounter the reality that citizenship in these United States recognizes our right only to the pursuit of happiness, not to happiness itself. And let’s not forget about life, liberty, and that it was our Creator who endowed us with these inalienable rights.

If Merton were alive today, I think he’d suggest that what we’ve been calling a financial crisis is really a crisis of the human spirit, and that this crisis cannot be remedied by bailouts, stimulus packages, recovery acts, or the newest culturally palatable spin. The right remedy can become clear only as we have the courage to do what he suggests is entirely relevant in a time of crisis: Pause and reconnect with the Creator. Pray. Meditate. Contemplate.

Here at ECCU headquarters, we’re daily challenged by this. We have a responsibility to the ministries that comprise this credit union to be your ministry banking resource, which mandates appropriate action to steward the resources entrusted to our care. But to do this well, we’re realizing more each day that we must balance action with contemplation.

Two weeks ago 30 staff members took a spiritual retreat—a day away from developing solutions for liquidity issues, wiring cash around the world, and designing the next generation of financial services and resources that will make your ministry more effective. Two more retreats are scheduled this year, giving ECCU’s entire staff the opportunity to pause in the midst of all the financial turmoil to hear God’s wisdom for their lives and for the life of ECCU. Will you join us in this effort?

Now, if you’re like me, you’re probably hurriedly scanning this article so you can move on to the 20 other things on your task list for the day. But will you take time, even now, to contemplate? To listen?


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