planning meetings, too. Somehow it became too full already but that's how it goes, yes? The Psalm reading for this morning said, "I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go up to the house of the Lord.'" On the English Jesuit prayer site I visit, the invitation was made to consider how my heart is touched by gratitude - and how do I give shape and form to my gratitude?
Sitting in the autumn coolness of my study before a full day I mused: I think I express gratitude to God by sharing my time and love with others in a patient and quiet way. I know I express it often through music, but most of my time involves a simple ministry of presence: sitting, waiting, listening and hearing. Apparently the St. Ignatius of Loyola believed that the most offensive sin is ingratitude - and that resonates with me, too.
To express gratitude, however, means you can't be in a rush. I have to be at rest within in order to be fully present for others. And for me that involves a constant struggle with managing my calendar so that I don't feel swamped. It would seem that after all these years I would be better at this, but apparently I am a very slow learner. The only "progress" I've made is knowing when life gets too full and owning that it is my problem and not somebody else's fault. And so the wrestling with time continues...
Fr. Richard Rohr wrote some wise words that have been encouraging to me. He asks:
How does one transition from the survival dance to the sacred dance? Let me tell you how it starts. Did you know the first half of life has to fail you? In fact, if you do not recognize an eventual and necessary dissatisfaction (in the form of sadness, restlessness, emptiness, intellectual conflict, spiritual boredom, or even loss of faith, etc.), you will not move on to maturity. You see, faith really is about moving outside your comfort zone, trusting God’s lead, instead of just forever shoring up home base. Too often, early religious conditioning largely substitutes for any real faith.
Usually, without growth being forced on us, few of us go willingly on the spiritual journey. Why would we? The rug has to be pulled out from beneath our game, so we redefine what balance really is. More than anything else, this falling/rising cycle is what moves us into the second half of our own lives. There is a necessary suffering to human life, and if we avoid its cycles we remain immature forever. It can take the form of failed relationships, facing our own shadow self, conflicts and contradictions, disappointments, moral lapses, or depression in any number of forms.
All of these have the potential to either edge us forward in life or to dig in our heels even deeper, producing narcissistic and adolescent responses that everybody can see except ourselves. We either “fall upward,” or we just keep falling.
Blessings to you as you move through this day with grace and gratitude: may all your falling be upward!