Paula Deen and the Supreme Court blatantly remind us today that people love a public crucifixion as much as they adore building people up. With the threat of racial slurs, in the face of character defeat, and the heat of debate and false definitions upon us, a great many of us simply want to throw up our hands in defeat and sigh. The rest of the world tells us to stand up and shout: loud, Loud, LOUDER, LOUDEST!
Shout! For our rights. For our society. For our children. For our religion. Etc. When…really…isn’t everyone just getting so loud, so terribly loud, that no one can hear and no one really wants to listen to anyone anymore?
The man alone on the mountain top is looking exceptionally wise to me. It’s just between him and God.
Another Catholic wife/mom posted this on Facebook:
I thought, how perfectly timely. To go into our own little spot in this world and make our own little contribution to the world. What a novel idea. How so? Aren’t we called to go beyond our comfort zone and reach out to those who do not know Christ. Yes…if we are able. I believe though, especially with social media constantly entertaining us 24/7, that we are too much out of our comfort zone and less time is spent with God within our comfort zone. We cannot be everything for everyone nor do I think we are called to be so. A friend recently shared (I’m forgetting which friend but I know they’re forgiving that way 🙂 ) a Wendell Berry quote from The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays:
That is simply all I can do, “define (and come to) terms (with my) relationship to the world and to humanity.” All any of us can do. Live where we are in the present moment. It’s the story of each of us throwing one little starfish back into the ocean even when faced with thousands of lost starfish upon the seashore. It’s what Mother Teresa did. She cared for which ever soul was placed in her care at that moment in time. She did not look beyond them or behind them. Another quote I thought worth copying is taken from my June Magnificat:
~ Fr. Anselm Moynihan, O.P. (An Irish Dominican priest and founding editor of Doctrine and Life) This quote made me consider what the task at hand was:
- For Me: to live responsibly and seek first the Kingdom of God
- For my children and grandchildren: to reawaken the world to the full awareness of God
- For the students in my religious education program: to reawaken them to a full awareness of God
So I am first to seek the Kingdom of God and then to (or perhaps while I’m seeking it) reawaken it to the rest of the world. How? How do we do this in the face of so much shouting and attention and media jargon? That’s where the introvert in me steps back, lest I overwhelm myself and become OCD.
I can wring my hands, sweat, panic, and worry about the world my grandchildren and great grandchildren are being born into. I can write eloquent posts and write obedient stats about family and faith. Or I can simply turn my back on this black box that brings so much gossip, exposure, and stress into so many homes and “gratefully focus” on home and family.
It’s hard enough to look into my own children’s and grandchildren’s eyes and attempt to reawaken anything the world has already taken from them or destroyed. It’s harder still to look into my own eyes in the mirror and think there is anyway on God’s green earth I can attempt to “reawaken” anyone with my demeanor. But through God all things are possible.
I am reminded to look at my own parents who recently celebrated 51 years of marriage, though I am sadly aware that many who read this might not have this example to look at. So, to those of you, I invite you to look at the example of my own parents. My parents raised my brother and I in a time (the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s) that the world was going to pot (literally). Fifty-one years later our family is still here and still intact. The Cold War, the Sexual Revolution, and everything else in the past 5 decades had nothing on them. Nothing was stronger than the mindset of these two who valued faith and family over everything. My greatest gifts are my faith and my family; I am forever indebted to my parents for instilling both of these in the fiber of my being despite the odds.
I’m thinking of those souls on Black Tuesday in October 1929. The stock market crashed and people lost fortunes and some drastically took their lives. There were record suicides and I’m sure all they saw was a black horizon and a bleak future. They could not have foreseen the brilliant future that awaited America’s Wall Street; both a blessing and a curse but still, Golden Years were on the horizon. We had to undergo a terrible war first, then Golden Years. Today finds us in the mist of a disgraced Wall Street but this one is different from the one in 1929.
See the ebb and flow of politics and culture and society?
Nothing lasts forever except God’s kingdom and what we do here on earth is part of our offering to that kingdom.
Clearly, I think the Ten Commandments instruct us how to live responsibly, and the Beatitudes teach us how to seek the Kingdom of God. If we follow those spiritual codes, everything else falls into place and we can reawaken the world to the fullness that is God. But, first, I need to fall back into the safety net God has made for me; what God desires for me; what His will is for me; where the burden is light for me. Sounds rather selfish and self-gratifying, doesn’t it? But, truly, if I believe He loves me and died for me, then I have to stop and see myself in the way He sees me; in the way He made me; in the way He loves me. He wants me to rest in Him before I can do anything else for anyone else.
Then all we really need to do is start within our own families. Start within our own little hemisphere. Our own small part of the world.
That Facebook vacation is sounding better and better. 🙂 Maybe that should be our second thing to do.
Thirdly, find a mentor who will guide you in handling social ills and social justice jointly. Even if it’s merely reading about someone who has served humanity with the face of Christ. Saintly examples are the best; think Mother Teresa. Yet, even her level of austerity can scare us away. I’ve been reading about the life and times of Dorothy Day (All the Way to Heaven) as well as her thoughts and opinions and experiences, written in her own hand (The Duty of Delight). She was never concerned or insistent that her daughter leave home and family to do something bigger in this world for more people. Her concerns were constantly for her daughter’s health and well-being, as well as her son-in-law’s and the grandchildren, and that her daughter know that her place was there with her husband. The burdens Dorothy placed upon herself were never burdens she placed upon her daughter.
How do we live this vision? Where is our physical, practical, do-able To-Do List?
I cannot speak for everyone because we are all in different callings, different vocations, different positions, different places in our lives.
Possibly, I can share with you where I plan to start and you can create your own list from there: I can begin tonight by praying for my unborn grandbaby and inviting his mommy to eat here instead of worrying about fixing supper. I can bake my husband’s birthday cake, the blackberry cobbler he desires rather than the chocolate one I would have desired. I can take my seven-month-old grandbaby outside in his little blue pool and laugh with him and the aunties and blow bubbles, then tuck him tight into a dry beach towel and dress him lovingly into a sweet “Daddy’s Big Guy” onesie (even though he’s still very little) and rock him with a lullaby to a land where there are no ugly debates or a loss of faith. I can, like the wife/mother above, take a Facebook vacation and gratefully focus on home and husband. I can sit at my computer or go to the church office and finish typing lesson plans for our religious education program. I can sponsor a child into our religious education program or sponsor a child on his/her Confirmation retreat. I can teach well the students who appear at my classroom door, this year. I can love my family.
I need do no more than that. Everything today is bigger and louder, striving, I guess, to be bigger and louder than God. We need to bow to the fact that nothing is bigger or louder than God. It starts with admitting and accepting that small enough is good enough. We need not fret or stress or worry about next week’s agenda nor next month’s. Certainly not next year’s. God does not ask that of us. He only asks what we can do today.
God’s got this! We don’t. And we are reminded daily that we don’t. Still…
We are Christians. We follow the code, the fiber, the being, the message, the word of a man named Jesus Christ. We continue to follow Him and be joyful Christians, no matter who or what defines us. We can still speak the truth even if no one listens to us, even if no one believes us, even if no one answers us. The world is seeing too many Christians weeping and wailing, wringing their hands and fretting, losing their peace, falling into despair.
What kind of message are we sending to the world when we do this?
Where are the martyrs who met the lions with singing in the arena?
The lions look much different today. Don’t they?
And our singing has turned to shouting. Hasn’t it?
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Lisa Mladinich says
Thank you, Cay!
I also love to think of Therese of Lisieux. She was another saint who was comforted by her “littleness” and focused her efforts on the people and work in front of her, trusting that God would take care of the rest.
Blessings and peace,