Reflections on Life
By Fran Lavelle
I was at Mass at the Cathedral on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. At the end of his homily, Father Anthony, in reference to Mary’s fiat, asked, “What ‘yes’ is Jesus asking of you?” I kicked that question around in my mind for the balance of the day. It spilled over into the next few days. Jesus is asking all of us for a “yes.” He is asking each one of us to say “yes” to loving and serving His people in our own unique way. With a heavy foot on the gas pedal of life, I realized this question needed to be seriously considered as the days of Advent were passing quickly.
It is my practice to be introspective at the end of the year. I took Father Anthony’s challenge as an opportunity to look back on where I’ve been spiritually and emotionally. It is always an affirming and challenging exercise. Without a doubt there are things on my personal to-do list that did not get done. I still need to Marie Kondo every closet in my house. There were also challenges for me spiritually. Some people refer to these challenges as periods of dryness. Maybe you too have experienced times when you felt like you were just going through the motions. I was able to identify when I felt an emptiness in my faith life, as well as identify the periods of great consolation when unexpected gifts and graces were received that were not anticipated like a colleague’s baby announcement or a visit from dear friends.
There was an ebb and flow to 2019 that at times felt like a bad plane ride with jarring turbulence and other times felt more like a gentle tail wind. This year’s evaluation was the foundation I needed to examine the question Father Anthony posed. My personal need for a decluttering specialist became apparent. When one is overwhelmed with stuff (figuratively or literally) one has two options, one can live with the stuff/chaos that clutters our lives or we can get rid of it. Physically getting rid of clutter (unless one is a true hoarder) is easy. It takes time, boxes and a trip to the nearest second-hand store to dispense with the physical stuff.
The emotional stuff/chaos is harder to get rid of. It is hard to lay down past hurts. It is hard to forget the times we have been dismissed by a colleague or family member. It is hard to make the tapes that recall the litany of hurts from our past to stop playing over and over in our heads. One can’t Marie Kondo those emotions, but one can overcome them. It became apparent to me that Jesus is calling me to let go of the chaos. It does not mean that it no longer exists, but that I have a choice to look like Pig Pen in the Peanuts cartoon or I can claim my peace amid chaos. My “yes” is an affirmation of my desire to not let the chaos and clutter gobble up precious time. The love of Christ, His peace, forgiveness and understanding cannot be manifested if it is not lived. I realized it was time for a hard re-set. To align my desire to love and serve Christ I must clean up the emotional clutter that gets in the way of me being my best self.
I was reminded of the Cherokee story of the two wolves. “One evening, an elderly Cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said ‘my son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other is good. it is joy, peace love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.’
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: ‘which wolf wins?’ The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘the one that you feed.’”
We are on the cusp of yet another year. It is the perfect time to seek and discern what “yes” Jesus is asking of you. We are assured in the gospel of Matthew to “… seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” Take the time to seek Him.
Peace and blessings to you this Christmas and throughout the new year. May you discern His call and may your “yes” bring you abundant joy and much love. As I sit in the peace and quiet of my home in Starkville, I am looking at the newest ornament on my tree. Yes, it is a wolf. A very, very good wolf.
Reflections on Life