Friday, July 30, 2004

Seeing both in myself, I can be patient with others: in the sublime and trivial moments of the day we find both joy and pain.

Summertime is really cool, even when it's hot! It seems so natural to take more time than usual to just be glad to be alive. I find my mind boiling with thoughts and my heart overflowing with emotions, and these days, one big thread through it all is gratitude. Gratitude for the priests I have been privileged to live and work with these past ten years. I'm glad that in more recent years I have more deliberately taken the time to enjoy their company and share more openly my thoughts and feelings in this ongoing adventure of life, Christian faith, and priesthood.

Just last week we enjoyed a meal and fellowship and our gratitude for the awesome presence of the Lord in our midst. We have both rediscovered the joy of spending more time in the Divine Presence each day, and I have been realizing how much I have missed doing that. In my previous assignment, I lived under the same roof with the Lord, and found it easier to just go downstairs to the chapel. On coming to Becket, I initially tried praying in the church, but found it more difficult - cold in winter, noisy with the equipment below, awkward with the furniture arrangement - I guess I'm a bit weak in accepting sacrifice and inconvenience. In any event, our new arrangement just makes it a lot easier and somehow a more natural part of the day.

The realization that is at the moment capturing my imagination - as you saw in the title of this posting today - is that we all seem to have some difficulty dancing with the confluence of the sublime and the trivial in our daily lives. The currents of joy and pain, delight and anguish, flow through our days as currents of warm and cold water do in the summer waters of lake or river as we swim along to refresh ourselves. Think of yourselves who are married - how well do you dance with the juxtaposition of sublime moments of communion with your spouse and the changing of diapers, getting up in the middle of the night in response to a child's call, finding yourself in the middle of outbreaks of sibling rivalry, the dynamics of your workplace, and the endless stream of other apparently trivial happenings of life? I have known people who are the most graceful of dancers, slipping in and out of the sublime and the trivial, as though they had become one - the trivial befriending the sublime, and the sublime penetrating the trivial.

For me, it's seeing the Spirit of the Lord touch and change hearts one moment, and the next moment opening mail, or shuffling paper, participating in a meeting, doing errands, or trying to grapple with the reluctant spirits of folks who - for various reasons - don't want to "play the game" of parish life: "I don't need to go to church!" or "We don't need to go to those meetings!" or "Why do we have to do this program, why can't you just give us what we want? (sacraments, or whatever it is)" I remember Jesus addressing the Pharisees and saying - about the fact that they were critical of both Himself and John the Baptist - that they were like children shouting to one another across the square, "We played a song for you and you wouldn't dance, we played a dirge for you and you wouldn't weep." What can you do when people just don't want to play?

How are we to understand the sharp contrast between those who avidly respond to the slightest word or suggestion from us as though they are being touched by the Lord himself, and those who seem to feel they have a direct line with God and consider us simply as obstacles crimping their style or getting in the way? Actually, we can understand these differences in others, because we have experienced them in ourselves; so the real question that is asking itself within me is, "How can I dance better between the sublime response of those who seem more awake to the breath of the Spirit of God, Lord and Giver of Life, and the apparently trivial reaction of those who seem more enclosed in the concerns of their own flesh, family, or individual lives?"

If I am getting in the way of God's grace and will, then I look to Him for help and guidance in getting out of his way. In any event, these days, I am so grateful for his inspiration, which has brought me back everyday into his True Presence in the Blessed Sacrament, where I can just be with Him and pour out all that is whirling around within me - both the trivial and the sublime. After all, Jesus is the Lord of the dance, and the Gospels are eminent testimony to just how gracefully He danced with both the trivial and the sublime while He was in the flesh before its wondrous transformation and glorification in the resurrection. Thankfully, He has no intention of keeping the dance to Himself, but quite eagerly instructs all who come to Him, becoming their help and their delight.

It has been almost 7 weeks since I set up this blog site and posted five days in a row. Since then, I was busy with tying up loose ends in anticipation of a month vacation to be immediately followed by an almost 4 month sabbatical. Over those final weeks, as various files and activities came to mind that required a clean handoff, I sent to whoever would want to carry on whatever I had done or whatever information had been gathered. In the end, there was a flurry of activity that caused me to delay packing and leaving; so that instead of taking 2 days to drive to PEI, I did it all in one day: leaving at 7:30 am on Tuesday and arriving at Tignish, the "far west" of the island at 9:00 pm (10:00 AT).

Speaking of the trivial and the sublime, last week I had either a local blood clot or burst capillary on the front of my left leg below the knee, which the young doctor at the Lakeshore ER said was nothing to be concerned about; as it was not on the "highway" either to or from the heart. So now I'm on therapeutic baby-dose aspirin. Then Wednesday night, my friend Fr. Brian had a gall bladder attack during the night. I had concelebrated a healing Mass which happens in the Cathedral parish of St. Dunstan's in Charlottetown and we had gone out for a snack and Guinness afterwards. We both had a scare within a week, remembering our own fragile human flesh, while we see the Lord showering his people with healing grace! Of course, we realize with deep gratitude and devoted love for the Lord that the vessel that dispenses life-giving fluid can never avoid betting wet itself. Blessed be our God and loving Father, who so tenderly cares for each and every one of his children!

1 comment:

  1. I'm just checking out this comment facility to make sure it works. I don't crave comments; however, as people do, who knows, some interesting dialogues may ensue. "Lord, bless this instrument, and make it your own, for the glory of your Holy Name, for the sake of the Gospel, and for the good of your people and your Church."