Walking Our Faith: Good C-words for the New Year
I make my bed first thing in the morning. I write out broad goals in January, and do a year in review around this last week of December. Among my daily goals is one called “read write walk 30” which is exactly at it as it sounds: do each of those things for 30 minutes a day at a minimum. Bonus points if I do it for an hour.
In that vein, I’ve been reading more books about faith, both in the broader sense and specifically reading my Bible and listening to it read to me on the Dwell app. I’ve discovered with this broader attention to matters of faith an interesting contrast: on the one hand I have fallen deeply in love with my own Catholic faith and in the wisdom and beauty of the Bible; on the other hand I have become more respectful of people of differing faith traditions, especially when I see in them the same love for God that I feel in my own heart.
“God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore.” 1 Kings 4:29.
Mom quoted this verse to me as I drove her to a doctor’s appointment near her home in Fort Lauderdale. It was Christmas Eve and we were talking about what we’d learned over the past year. Mom’s assertion was these attributes were the key to a rich life. I asked, “Is it too late for me to incorporate them into my life?”
If it’s possible for a ninety two year old woman to snort with derision, she did and said, “It’s not to late for me.”
Although Mom has a TV in every room of her two bedroom apartment, they’re rarely on. Instead, she listens to music, and her daily time of prayer and Bible study is done in silence. The better to hear God speak. As Mom describes this time: “Precious moments alone with God. Listening as God speaks to me, expressing my love to him in meditation.”
What I’ve learned this week is that making space for silence, making time for prayer, allows us to hear God speak to us, to praise God, to sit in God‘s presence and soak in his love for us.
As I study God’s Holy Scriptures, as I pray, as I read widely on faith, I understand God is so much greater than my understanding . The vastness of this One we call God gives me a new compassion for all who share this world, and my heart becomes more open to the thought, “we are all just walking each other home.”
This acknowledgment of my smallness in light of God‘s greatness, allows me to see the world with new compassion and civility.
As I walked out to the living room on Christmas morning Mom was sitting on the couch and her first words to me were, “It’s going to be a great day!” To be honest I didn’t share her enthusiasm. I’d spent a nearly sleepless night tossing and turning on the twin bed in her guestroom, and had an entire Christmas dinner to cook that day, in addition to driving to Boca to visit my sister in law in the hospital. To my sleep-deprived mind, the day looked more like a challenge.
But Mom continued her enthusiastic declaration as I got to work. Sure enough by the end of the evening after our guests had left and I put up my feet and enjoyed a glass of wine I had to agree, it was a great day.
I was grateful for the time I spent with my sister-in-law, the phone conversation with my brother, the chance to cook for and thank the neighbors who make my Mom’s life of independence possible.
Mom’s wisdom demonstrates that we have an important choice to make, daily. How we see our circumstances is our choice, how we face challenges is our choice, and when we choose optimism and grace we are more likely to see an outcome that reflects our positive attitude.
In the past, my reaction to inconvenience and disappointment has been more like Eeyore’s. But I see the wisdom in Mom’s actions. A positive attitude empowers us.
As I look towards the new year, the start of another decade, the only goal I want to pursue is to become a better citizen of this earth, to become a better child of God, to do a better job of seeing my neighbors and my friends and the strangers I meet as fellow children of God.
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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