Reflections on Life
By Father Jerome LeDoux, SVD
The greatest threat out there in the uncaring, oft cruel world is what we can conveniently call osmosis. Be patient and go slow with this strange definition. For biology’s sake, osmosis is “the spontaneous net movement of solvent molecules through a semi-permeable membrane into a region of higher solute concentration, in the direction that tends to equalize the solute concentrations on the two sides.”
So, the molecules must be solvent; the membrane, semi-permeable. Believe it or not, that sounds like us human beings. As we go about our daily being, saying and doing the everyday things of life, we are ever solvent and soluble, surrounded by the semi-permeable membrane of our choosing, and constantly interacting back and forth with the solute concentrations of our immediate, intimate environment. In a word, as in osmosis, we absorb people, TV, electronics, etc. in which we are steeped.
In this, you undoubtedly see the huge importance of the moral and social fiber of the people with whom you hang out, the culture of life or death in which you live, the quality of life in the neighborhood that touches you most hours of the day.
We are not just being there and living there. As molecules do in osmosis, we are constantly absorbing into our mind, body and soul, for better or worse, everyone and everything that surrounds us.
Since we cannot choose our relatives, the only choice we have in the matter is that of selecting our friends and associates, although business needs and, to some extent, church and civic duties take our choice away.
Genesis 5:24 instructs us how to be with God, “Enoch walked with God, and he was no longer here, for God took him.” The language of that Scripture is mystical, for Enoch’s daily, hourly walk with God became a life-giving thing more and more by the minute, so sustaining life in him that he did not die. God just took him as he was.
How often do we tell someone, “If you talk the talk, you must walk the walk?” Too many people talk a great fight, but, when it comes to walking with us, joining us in the trenches, they are nowhere to be seen. This is where the osmosis of hanging out with Jesus pays off. Our walk is super strong as long as we walk with Jesus. Thus, in the Holy Blues the slaves sang, “I want Jesus to walk with me!”
Osmosis is at work all over the world and in each nook and cranny. We have numerous ways of stating this. Listen to the familiar, “Birds of a feather flock together” that the old folks never tired of drumming into our consciousness. Of course, it means a lot more than our wonderful world of fabulous birds. It means, as we know so well, that either people of like mind hang out together, or people are drawn to become of like mind by associating with each other – for better or worse!
Colonel Chaplain Louis Verlin LeDoux has special permission from his bishop in Tacoma, Washington, to maintain his own chapel – Blessed Sacrament and all – in his home. It is the most prized part of his life, the topic of most frequent mention in the course of conversations. Morning prayer and Mass are a given, of course. From there it starts to turn almost into an über-monastic sort of thing.
My big brother “Verl” definitely would not like what I am writing here, for he is a private kind of guy who has no truck with this manner of speaking about one’s personal business.
My elder by three and a half years, Verl was ordained a priest on Dec. 27, 1952, at Sacred Heart Church in our hometown, Lake Charles, La. After pastoring three years at St. Mary Church in smallish Port Barre, La, his bishop, Jules B. Jeanmard, of the Diocese of Lafayette allowed him to become a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force.
Among numerous other assignments over a span of 35 years, Verl spent a horrendous year in Vietnam at its worst, experiencing such things as seeing an airman riding in a jeep with him cut in half by machine gun fire, spattering Verl with blood. Returning to the States, he did a lot of pacing back and forth for almost a year, constantly praying the rosary and drinking more coffee than the law allows.
Anyway, this same Verl hangs close to his home chapel now, spending at least four hours each day in the chapel. Is that über-monastic or what? Spending “Holy Hour” in church demands much attention and concentration. But four hours, even if spread over the day? My Lord!
I would rate that as very high spiritual osmosis where we take on the characteristics of Father/Jesus/Holy Spirit by their nearness. I’m whispering in your ear – don’t let Verl know that I told you these things.
I would like to think that most of the people around us are not only pleasant but good by every measure of body, mind, heart, nerves, emotions, especially soul.
“God is love, and all who abide in love abide in God and God in them.” (1 John 4:16)
(Father Jerome LeDoux, SVD, retired to Sacred Heart Residence in Bay St. Louis He has written “Reflections on Life since 1969.)
Reflections on Life