Sunday, July 12, 2015

making time for... what?

It's not easy to find a balance in life. 

Sometimes, the problem isn't making time for things... 

The problem is making time for too many.

Thursday morning, I woke up - later than I'd wanted - to a migraine that felt like an icepick jammed through my right eye.

My usual dose of black tea was not quite enough to wake me up, and in spite of the headache and exhaustion, I dragged myself to work, for the sake of one important meeting. 
By 3:00, everything was wrapped up. Though the icepick was still lodged firmly behind my eye, I didn't want to go home, because I knew that if I went home, the odds were not in favor of making it to evening Mass. 

A thunderstorm was looming in the south, and the air was fresh and cool. Not wanting to drive too far, but thinking that being outside in that lovely pre-monsoon storm weather would be good after a long day stuck in an office, I went to a nearby outdoor shopping mall. 

As I walked out of a store awhile later, it had started to rain. I stopped under the eave, and leaned back against the storefront. The rain wasn't hard yet, but it was steady.

I didn't care about getting wet.
I was only about 15 feet from my car.
But I stopped.
Just stopped.
And watched the rain.

I realized that it was the first time all week that I had paused so intentionally – that I had really made time to stop.

My heart and mind have been heavy in recent days, and perhaps in an effort to avoid thinking too deeply about weighty things, I lost myself in the busy-ness of everything else. It’s easy to do. There’s always some demand on my time. The problem isn't making time for those demands... The problem is, I make time for too many.

Sure, there are certain things I hold as non-negotiable, but some weeks, I wonder if I have enough of those. 

Watching the rain, I thought about how living at this pace – often technology-driven (what’s in my email?? what last-minute meeting just got put on my calendar?) – is often not really living, at all. 

We are overly connected, and utterly depersonalized... 

Some days, I wish I could just give it all up. Do something simpler. Something quieter. Something less connected, but more personal.

Some days, I wish I could just give it all up. Then, I'm reminded that giving it all up isn't the solution. Being who God needs me to be, right here, right now - in all the messy complexity that entails - is. Finding a way to keep some balance and simplicity in that mix isn't easy, and I fail at it all the time. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

something to let go

On Monday, a colleague asked, "So what are you giving up for Lent?"

It occurred to me several days ago that perhaps this was something worth approaching from a different angle for a change. You may be familiar with the idea of the "God-shaped hole" that exists in every human heart (words that are popularly, and as I have recently discovered, incorrectly attributed to Blaise Pascal).

The rest of the thought about the God-shaped hole, of course, is that we try to stuff that hole with all kinds of other things that are ultimately unsatisfying because they are not God. So, then, the idea for Lent should be to let go of something (or somethings) with which we have been attempting to fill the God-void. To let go... instead of to give up.

Okay, I'm sure I could come up with some bad "Frozen" joke here, but I'll refrain.

If I consider letting go of something, there seems to be a certain kind of peace in the relinquishment - as in, relinquishing it to God, offering it to him in order that he might come to fill my own God-void. 

I think that sometimes we get so absorbed by the idea of giving something up for Lent, that we don't really think about why we're doing it. Perhaps it's only semantics, but the idea of letting go of something for Lent reminds me of the reason why I should, more so than if I think of it in terms of giving something up. It reminds me of my own longing for God - and of God's longing for me - and that helps me to consider more deeply what I should "let go."

Lord, help me to see more clearly what is holding me back from you. 

(Photograph taken at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish - "Redemptorist Church" - Kansas City, MO - July 2014)