With love and trust we know each morning that the sun will rise. Even when we cannot see it, like today when it is pouring rain as if a pipe had broken. But with love and trust we know the sun is still shinning, still giving warmth and light with all its effort. The sun doesn’t decide to do that – that’s just what it does!
This week, 36 years ago, with love and trust we said “I do” to a committed relationship. Thinking back on it, I had no idea what I was doing or saying. No idea at all. But, with 36 years behind us – years of joy and happiness, trials and struggles, children and stresses, jobs and mortages – now I know what “I do” means. It means continuing to give warmth and light even when it isn’t easy or comfortable. It means staying committed when something else may look more interesting. It means loving as a decision, as well as an emotion. What begins as an emotion has to be able to survive the days and nights of continual rain and sogginess. Eventually, the emotions mature into deep commitment and give warmth and light because we decide to continue to love and trust – no matter what – whether the sun is shinning or not.
This decision to love and trust has brought much happiness and joy to our lives. Our four children, our greatest blessings, are now grown and we are rediscovering what attracted us to each other in the first place.
I’m reminded of a comment made to us while visiting the Smithsonian Air and Space Museums recently. The person at the counter wanted to know if we wanted tickets for our “little ones” as well as ourselves. I replied that our “little ones” were now “big ones” and that we’d left them on their own. “That’s what happens,” he replied, “so now you can become “little ones” yourselves again.” And, that’s just what we are doing. Exploring this part of the country as if we were young again. A sense of adventure has brought us across country to DC and to commemorate 36 years together we are giving each other bicycles so we can explore the parks and trails in this area.
All because of love and trust and the two little words “I do” that have shaped our years together, every moment has been graced.
What does it mean for us to practice our faith? I think it literally means that we keep trying until we get it right. And, there’s no rush . . . we have a life time to get it right. But, once again, Lent offers us the opportunity to improve our practice.
Like doctors who have a medical practice, or lawyers who have a legal practice, as spiritual beings we have a spiritual and religious practice. That means we have to work at it, and it also means that it does not always come out perfect – but we keep trying. My husband used to tell our kids when they were growing up that “Everyday is practice for tomorrow.” How true that is! So, every day we can practice to be a better person, a person more and more like Christ. It doesn’t happen automatically, but by continual practice, day after day.
So, let’s use this day as a time to practice and to improve our prayer, our patience, our acceptance, our charity, our forgiveness, our ______________. You fill in the blank. What needs more practice in your spiritual life?
Each moment we practice our faith is a graced moment.
How are we with silence? I mean the kind of deep, true quiet where God speaks. How are we with that kind of silence? I think many times we are much too over excited with the events of our days to even recognize the presence of silence or to allow it when it presents itself. I am reminded of a joke I heard a stand up comic use when I was in high school. “Last night there was nothing on TV so I turned on a light.”
Are we equally compulsive about silence? Do we turn on the TV, or ipod, or computer, or music just because we cannot stand the sound of sheer silence? Fr. Thomas Keating said that silence is the only language God speaks and everything else is a bad translation.
If we want to hear the sound of God’s voice we may have to turn off other things in our busy lives. Silence is there – God is there – if we but take the moment to immerse ourselves in the silence and listen.
Perhaps this Lent is also calling us to a greater amount of silence in our days so we might be able to hear the true sound of God. Everything else is a bad translation.
Let the silent moments be graced moments.
A couple of years ago I came across a beautiful little prayer. “O God, bless them. Change me.” It seems most appropriate to focus on this little prayer again during this Lenten season. It is simple, straightforward and ultimately, life changing. “O God, bless them. Change me.” All I need to do is stop focusing so much on myself and think of the other person. They may not have had me in mind at all when they cut me off on the freeway or was rude in the grocery check out line. They may not have even seen me as they pushed their way in front of me to get to the information desk first, not wanting to wait in line. And all I need to do is remember the prayer: “O God, bless them. Change me.”
We are not privileged to the inner workings of others’ lives – many times we are not aware of our own – so how can we judge what might be their motives? Ask God to bless them. And then ask God for the courage to change us and our attitudes.
Lent is a time to practice what we preach; to try to improve the actions of our lives and make them more consistent with Jesus’ actions of love and compassion toward everyone. This little prayer may help us. “O God, bless them. Change me.”
It is a graced moment each time we pray it.
Another Lent begins today and we are asked to examine our lives and make an authentic effort to travel the Spiritual journey more deeply. I am committed to that journey anew this year, and like every Lent, pray that it makes me a better follower of Christ and witness to the ways of Christ in our world.
Now is the acceptable time to examine not just the surface aspects of our lives, but the very roots of our all of our ambitions, desires, and the true character of who we are. Who are we as we struggle to follow Christ? How do we make that journey in authenticity?
St. Andre Bessette once wrote: “God doesn’t ask for the impossible, but wants everyone to offer their good intentions, their day’s work, and some prayers. That will help them a lot. The best Way of the Cross is when people accept willingly the crosses that are sent to them.”
Let’s start with acceptance, then, and let acceptance be the graced moments of this Lent. Acceptance of our place in life; our struggles; our pains; our misunderstandings; our loses; our longing for love that was not there for us; our failures; our hurts . . . These become the cross we carry on the path to following Jesus. Not to be burdened by them, and not to use them as excuses, but to accept them and journey on – following Christ with every step.