Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Crossroads

Recently, I dreamed I was standing at a crossroads in a huge windstorm; I was literally standing there in the middle with the way behind me and 3 seemingly identical options in front of me. It was mid-morning but the wind and the blowing dust obscuring the sun made time seem inconsequential. There were no road signs, no traffic, and all three roads looked pretty much the same.  I feel anxious, now, writing about it, but in my dream, I was calm, centered, just standing in the crux of the looming decision.

I don't remember anything else. I suspect the dream was brought on by Robert Frost's famous poem, "The Road Not Taken" which I had recently discussed with my children. My crossroads, however, was far less inviting than Frost's, yet neither was it desolate nor foreboding. It simply was. It was me and a choice and a fate neither apparently sublime nor ignoble. It was clearly an every day choice and yet that moment of hesitation -- or perhaps surrender -- at the crossroads tells the same story as Frost's; it was a way forward that while neither good nor bad, was somehow permanent.

In retrospect, I have been at a crossroads, and it is one I believe is central to our faith; not just my faith as a Catholic or my faith as a Christian; it's at the core of our humanity. For the last 6 weeks, I have been reading articles and books and watching videos about scarcity and abundance, about waste and stewardship. This has been a convicting journey, indeed.

On the eve of Easter, on the cusp, this is the result of my Lenten journey. I stand at the crux of the decision and when the eggs are filled and the baskets laid on the table, I will go to bed to awake tomorrow committed anew to a new/old path; one of simplicity and perhaps at times austerity; most certainly it will be one of authenticity and that is what matters to me.

Happy Easter.

PS -- a few videos, in particular, have impacted me in this rending of heart; all are available on Netflix or Amazon Prime video. Here they are in no particular order;

Living on One Dollar 
Just Eat It
Poor Kids by Frontline
A Place at the Table
Fed Up

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Epiphanies and Resolutions

I love the Feast of Epiphany . . . and not just because I can take my tree down, which I still haven't. I love Epiphany because it reminds me that each of us has something to offer by way of sacrifice or, in a timely way, by resolution. As Father Michael talked Sunday about renewing our relationship with God, I kept thinking about the verses of "In the Bleak Midwinter:"

What can I bring him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; 
If I were a wise man, I would do my part; 
Yet what I can, I give him . . .
Give my heart. 

You know me. I'm prone to sentimentality and over-sincerity. It's part weakness and part dramatic behavior. I'm so attracted to the drama in it. I love the image of first the humble shepherd then the stately wise man and then myself, pulsing heart in hand. It's quite the picture.

It truly is my best self who comes forward at the first of the year with promises and resolutions. I mean them. I mean to keep them and, as I mentioned recently, I make them with eyes wide open  -- in at least as much as I am able to be open minded about myself.

Someone -- and I truly don't remember whom -- told me that Christians don't need to make resolutions. They are always on their knees in front of the crucifix doing their best and making amends for their failings.

This is not true of me. I grew up at the altar of the church; I am well schooled in the Christian way of life. Throughout my life I was often told, "you need to have more faith," "you need to forgive," you need to "Let go and let God." And I never disagreed. These things, I knew, were true and would be helpful. Yet, my constant inner response was, "YBH. Yes, but how?"

Herein lies the beauty of aging. We learn things. Through various means and methods and a lot of "hard knock" schooling in the always truthful, School of Life, I have found the YBH. I have learned to have faith, to forgive, to surrender.

Resolutions are one of the vehicles that deliver the YBH to me. They are the wheels on the vehicle of faith that, in the next twelve months, will help me end the year a happier, healthier, and, well, better person. In a few weeks when Lent comes around, I'll get to recommit, tweak and renew those resolutions in the form of Lenten sacrifices. There is much learning and living to be had in the quest to reach those goals.

So if you are a resolutionist, or never have been, it's not too late! Consider taking a little time this month to look at your year just past and the one laying ahead, shining with hope and promise, and consider what will help you get to the end of it with a heart full of love and gratitude.

Let me know how it works for you!

PS - If you're interested, I just made my New Year's Resolutions and you can find them here.

I write about resolutions most years and often more than once!. Here are several of those posts:

New Resolutions:

2015: More is More, Less is More and More is Better!
2014: Six Word Resolutions to Write on the Clean Slate
2013: Resolutionary Manifesto
2012: A Single Resolution
2011: New Year's Revolution
2010: Resolution Revolution
2009: God on Speed Dial

Taking Stock Along the Way:

Dec 2015: The Un-listened to "Provided That"
Dec 2014: A Change of Face
Feb 2014: Resolution Reality Check
Jan 2013: Hope for my Resolutions