I just returned from five heavenly days. Literally. My husband, Mark, and I were attending the annual workshop for our Schoenstatt community — five awesome days of education, formation, prayer, and fellowship in an environment of sheer joy. The experience filled my heart and soul to the brim with every good thing a heart and soul can hold.
When I got home, however, it seemed as if everything that had been put in was emptied out. The headlines were filled with calamity and new challenges met me in seemingly every area of my life.
The Marines have launched a major military operation in Afghanistan, Farah, Michael, and Ed are dead, 467,000-some jobs down the tubes, Madoff’s off to prison, President Obama’s march toward socialized medicine continues and he’s been catering to a powerful interest group that threatens the sanctity of marriage.
On the home front I’ve got a late-teen-early-adult screaming for independence, a teenager who’s discovered he’s a teenager, a newly-adult daughter (turned 21 Saturday) and a son in Iraq who I miss and worry about constantly.
Well, I never was a big fan of Farah, Michael or Ed but I am sorry for their passing for the sake of their families. The rising unemployment rate worries but doesn’t surprise me. Madoff…I’ll let that one alone. Socialized medicine? Yup. It’s a big concern just like the raging joblessness in our country. Threats to the sanctity of marriage leave me extremely uneasy, too. The offensive in Afghanistan scares the bijeebers out of me. Recently surfaced issues and twenty-four years of parenting have taught me that there is no status quo and I’ll never be free from worrying about my kids.
I was especially disturbed, however, by my reaction to all these goings-on. After getting home and unpacking, I looked forward to sitting down at the computer and catching up on the "real" world from which I’d been blissfully secluded for the past many days. It didn’t take long for me to sigh, turn the thing off and leave the room.
Later that night, I scolded myself for my defeatist attitude. Hadn’t I just spent time with God, with my community, being rejuvenated and inspired? Hadn’t I just renewed my pledge of faithfulness in striving for everyday sanctity? Hadn’t I just renewed my promise to live in the spirit of the Evangelical Counsels?
Where did all that holy energy go?
It went into mechanistic thinking, that’s where it went. Mechanistic thinking is the kind of thought process in which we separate the human from the Divine, the Sunday sanctity from the weekday sanctity, the cause from the effect. I had separated the graces and gratitude of my workshop from the trials and tribulations of my everyday life. I’d completely forgotten to grab them, internalize them, and apply them to the world around me.
I’m reminded of my friend Job. I have a lot to learn from him because no matter how tough things got for him, he never gave up hoping in the Lord. In turn, the Lord rewarded him for his faithfulness.
If you direct your heart rightly, you will stretch out your hands toward him. If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and do not let wickedness reside in your tents. Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish; you will be secure, and will not fear. You will forget your misery; you will remember it as waters that have passed away. And your life will be brighter than the noonday; its darkness will be like the morning. And you will have confidence, because there is hope; you will be protected and take your rest in safety. (Job 11:13-18)
If I have hope, my life will be brighter than the noonday, I will be protected and take my rest in safety. The trick is not to pack away the times of grace and rejuvenation but to unfold them and carry them along with me in my daily life.