Saturday, December 31, 2011

Perhaps I already have enough to do all my work?

In the face of new year's resolutions, the cultural process of making plans to lose weight, exercise more, etc., I have decided to not set any new goals or resolutions.  For one, this blog and year of living intentionally is certainly a work in progress... and the progress has been waining of late (though I am happy to report I successfully put away all new Christmas clothes, organized my closets and even weeded out some clothes to donate- returning to goal # 19!!)  I am grateful for the sense of new beginning that comes with a 'new year', as an opportunity to re-focus my efforts and consider who I am becoming in the coming year.  In addition to already having some goals set, I think a different way of approaching the new year is to focus on embracing trust in myself and God, that I can achieve, become, learn and grow.  Instead of focusing on the end results or goals, I'd like to focus on the process, the journey and a way of being.
A New York Times writer just finished a great piece on the Jesuit retreat center in Wernersville, PA.  This retreat center provided me with two very significant retreat experiences in my college life, times when I was particularly struggling and felt a bit lost.  The retreat space, both physical and spiritual, provided time to listen, to stop filling the silence with music, conversation, tv, reading and all the other 'stuff' of my life, and really hear God's voice speaking to me in my thoughts, prayers, dreams and sometimes just in the comfortable silence.  One of the lines from the NYTimes article seemed to encapsulate it all, as her spiritual director suggested, what if you already have enough to do all of your work?  To really believe and to know... to have the confidence and trust that with God, you have all that you need to face whatever life brings you.  To thrive, to attain fulfillment, and to live our life in trust.  Worrying less and having confidence in one's self and God.... Yes, please.  I'd like that.
Father Jim Martin, SJ, a great spiritual writer of late, posted a list of 12 "Really stupid things I'd like to never do again".  His style of writing is accessible to me, as I can relate to what he describes and instead of feeling shame, he helps me to laugh at myself and my many human weaknesses.  The first item on his list is about comparing...  Something that facebook continues to invoke in me, so that after I spend thirty minutes reading my newsfeed and looking at peoples' pictures, I often log off feeling a little less jovial than I did when I logged on.  It doesn't happen every time I log off, but often enough that I realize I need to compare myself less... and maybe get back to that goal of spending less time on facebook.  Here's what Fr. Jim had to say about it: Compare. Ever heard the saying "Compare and despair"? Comparing yourself to someone else usually means that you imagine the other person is better off, more satisfied -- in a word, happier. But here's the problem: We end up comparing what we know about our life, which is a mixed bag of good and bad, with a fantasy of someone else's supposedly "perfect" life. Why do we do this? Because we know all about our own problems, but other people's problems are harder to see. As a result, our real life always loses out. That leads to despair. Besides, there's probably someone comparing his or her life to your supposedly perfect one -- which shows you how ridiculous it all is.
The rest of his article is here if you're willing to look in the mirror and reflect on some perhaps 'stupid' stuff you do, too.  Bring your sense of humor!

My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither, but just enjoy your ice cream while it's on your plate.
Thornton Wilder

1 comment:

  1. That line from the article is resonating with me as well (particularly as I clear off my much stuff on their that I don't need to do my work!).

    Happy New Year!