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Archive for January, 2010

Call

Listening to the Gospel for today, Jesus calling the apostles, I thought about a common reaction I hear from people discerning a call to religious life.  “I could never be a sister/brother/priest.  I’m not holy enough.”  My response is always the same: Who of us is?  And if you look back at the various calls in the Old and New Testaments or the lives of the saints and founders of religious congregations, most of them were hesitant, reluctant or resistant to God’s invitation.  Everyone had an excuse.

In the words of St. Mark (3:13-19), Jesus calls who he wants!  He sees the qualities he needs in the very human persons following him.  Even their quirks are lovable.  James and John are called the “Sons of Thunder”.  Now I wonder exactly what Jesus meant by that?  I imagine he was referring to some “issues” they had!

All of us have had the experience of being chosen- or not- for a team, a group, a club.  The joy of someone choosing us, of wanting us, or the disappointment at being left on the sidelines, are deep in our human experience.

Today is an opportunity to take a few moments of quiet in order to know myself as chosen by God in a very unique and particular way. I imagine hearing my name called out, even made special by a little comment or endearing nickname, and allow myself to experience the love of God for me, quirks and all.

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change

Just about the time I think I have this “change” thing figured out…guess what?  Change happens.  And I realize how fragile are the equilibrium and equanimity I’ve achieved.  I find out how attached I’ve become: to a routine, to a position, to a persona.

Attachment is the issue.  We can’t go through life without forming attachments.  What a sad state that would be!  But when we grasp things so tightly- or allow them to stick on us as though we were made of velcro- for the sake of building up and protecting our little selves…we can fool ourselves into thinking that we are our attachments, our accomplishments, the roles we play.

Spending time recently with someone approaching the end of her life taught me again about letting go and accepting change.  Accepting everything…and letting it go.  What matters is the love, the true attachments we have nurtured and that have nurtured us, the loves of our lives that create our true Self through acceptance. Susan was blessed to be encircled by those she loved in her last days.  They sang and told stories at her bedside.  They cried and sat in silence.  Mostly they kept vigil with her as change happened.

How grateful I am to have people in my life who keep vigil as I become who I am.  It isn’t just at the hospice bed that this happens.  There are so many opportunities each day to accompany each other through life’s changes, to hold each other’s hand as we try our best to let go gracefully.

Jesus did not cling to equality with God.  (Phil. 2:6) He did not cling to anything accept to the certainty that he was the beloved of God.  So he could accept change- and yet is “the same, yesterday, today and forever”.  May we have in us “the mind of Christ” as we learn to live with change.

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2010

A New Year’s Day afternoon walk renewed my commitment to make each day count.  The sun was setting, turning our mountains a warm red-gold.  I thought about the gifts of the year-gone-by. I gave thanks for health, for the ability to walk along the irrigation ditches and finished cotton fields.  

On the first day of the new year I suppose it is only natural to feel some ambivalence.  Mixed in with the sense of newness and possibility there is also an awareness of all the unexpected that happened in the year behind.  The deaths of my brother-in-law Skip in March and of Sister Ann in November were not imaginable at this time last year.  Life is so fragile.

As I walked I thought about “new year’s resolutions” and could come up with only one:  To make each day count by loving what I have.  I resolve to not  waste a second by wishing things were different, by grasping for “more stuff”, by worrying about things that are beyond anyone’s control.  Included in this resolution is to take time to appreciate the gift of each day- even its challenges- to live with eyes and arms wide-open.

I find comfort in a phrase I learned from my friend, Fr. Bill: “The veil that hides the future is woven by the hand of mercy.”   Comforting, too, the words of the prologue of John’s Gospel:  “From God’s fullness we have all received- grace upon grace.” (Jn. 1:16)  We have everything we need to meet the coming year.  Make each day count.

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