In the “music” of this all-to-hard-to-find silence, I began to feel myself drawn in the direction of the master composer and musician, the One who brings all to life, throws beauty over the world like a prayer shawl, and invites us all to “waste time with him” every once in a while.
My presence and openness to God, to the world and to those around me — and especially to those in need — defines me in a much greater way than the pride of my busy-ness. My silence before God labels me in a way far superior to the accolades for what I have accomplished.
All too often, it seems, we take the world and our role in it all too casually. We wake with a yawn and stumble through our mornings, gulping coffee and rushing to work or elsewhere and paying little to no attention to what’s happening around us.
We may be re-energized by a brisk walk or a exhilarated by a bike ride, but we also require the quiet introspection that comes from solitude, reflection or prayer, from placing ourselves before the world like an open lens and allowing ourselves to be imprinted by it all, like photographic plates or film, by what the world is showing us.
Gratitude, it seems to me, is the starting point for our lives of prayer, creativity and living well among others. But gratitude is easy to say and harder to live by because it’s hard work. Saying “thank you” to God and to others around us is the simplest thing to do and, yet, we so often forget to do it. Or don’t make time to do it. Or don’t make it a part of our daily experience.
“Here I am,” is perhaps the most authentic response we can make to God. “Here I am” is awareness of the present and of the fact that I am in the presence of something great and beyond myself. “Here I am” is the beginning of my day, the busy-ness in the midst of my day, and the end of the day when my head hits the pillow and I briefly try to recall when I might have experienced God.
It’s almost Christmas. It’s the fourth week of advent. And we wait. But for what?
What resonated was the thought that these few lines so simply and beautifully retold Jesus’ great commandment to us — that we are to love God with all of our hearts, minds and souls, and that we are to love those around us as much as we love ourselves.
I had never heard of this pilgrimage until a few years ago when I met a couple of novices in a class I was taking at Aquinas Institute of Theology, and I’ve been intrigued by the notion ever since. So I opened the book with curiosity and wondered what it might have to teach a 55-year-old lay spiritual director and writer. The answer I received was, “a lot,” and so I highly recommend the book to anyone looking for reassurance about his or her own life journeys. We are, after all, all pilgrims.
Tonight on our drive from St. Louis north to Des Moines, Iowa (en route to visit friends in Minnesota) we listened to Krista Tippett’s “On Being” interview with Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ, of Homeboy Industries, who has worked with gang members in some of the toughest neighborhoods in LA for decades. During the interview he [...]