July 24, 2019
Things do change over time, and thinking about that reminds me how wrapped up in myself I can get, what tiny things in life can get me in a state of impatience that sometimes borders on rage.
For most of my life, I was always too warm. I craved winter weather when I could at least enjoy the feeling of a sweater without perspiring and feeling prickly from the warmth of it. And then it changed. Not suddenly, really, but fairly quickly. Instead of being too warm all the time, for awhile I was pretty comfortable, and then I got cold. Instead of craving winter, I wanted summer so I could feel the sun, and sweaters became a way of life instead of a cherished exception.
This summer’s weather has been variable and mainly on the cool side. After a brief stretch of very hot weather, we’ve gone back to very cool nights and mornings. This morning, I needed a sweater to brave the 55-degree air on my way to Mass. And when I got to the chapel, the big blower was running and blowing cold air down, seemingly focused right on my usual seat.
Having learned in my recent retreat the value of accepting all things with thanks and praise, I began looking for something in this to be thankful and praiseful about (whilst sitting on my hands to keep them warm). And as my beloved Father is inclined so often to do, he sent me an answer – also as often happens, not quite the one I was expecting, but certainly the one I needed to hear.
Here is what I heard this morning, in the quiet chapel where that blower was the only sound and that cold air was the only sensation: That cool breeze is, for someone else, exactly what they need to be comfortable. Can you be grateful for that person’s comfort, instead of complaining about your own minor discomfort? Who is this all about, after all?
The beauty of that moment, the wonder of that small revelation, is that it showed me a way to truly accept everything that happens in a spirit of joy and praise. If I could give thanks and be happy for the person who is feeling comfortable – even wonderfully relieved – in that cool air, that was a perfect step away from self-centeredness to really loving my neighbor. If I could praise God that someone else found and received what he or she needed, wouldn’t that be a wonderful way of praising Him?
I stopped sitting on my hands and offered up the small chill I was feeling, and I thought about how many other things in my day could be sources of joy and praise and gratitude rather than sources of complaint and impatience. What if, instead of venting with road rage at the driver who didn’t move quickly enough when the light turned green, I could praise God for that person keeping me from being in a rush? Or just be grateful that I don’t need to be in such a hurry? Or pray for that person to have a relaxed and blessed day?
What if, instead of thinking about how everything and everyone I encounter during my day is affecting me, I could praise God and find joy in knowing that with each encounter I am where God wants me to be? What if I could see each encounter as a way to be a blessing to someone else? What if each encounter was not about me, but about my neighbor – an opportunity to love my neighbor?
What if I were to be full of praise and thanksgiving because God is showing me who my neighbor is and giving me a chance to love? What if this is the answer to my prayer that Jesus would so fill my heart with love that it must overflow on everyone I meet?
What if none of this is about me? Wouldn’t that be a relief? Wouldn’t it be great to go through the day without worrying about whether everything was going to go the way I wanted it to – and with the certainty that everything would be as God planned it?
Yes. I can live with that.
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