Walking Our Faith: Looking forward
I have a couple books with me while visiting Mom this Christmas. One of them is “Christmas at Eagle Pond” by Donald Hall, former poet laureate of the United States. He describes a Christmas morning in 1940 spent at his grandparents home in the snowy countryside of Vermont.
“I picked up another package slim but heavy. My grandfather grinned, so I knew it came from him. It was an old book, ‘One Hundred and One Famous Poems,’ tattered and with a birthday inscription dated 1912. Everybody knew that in summers I tried writing poems each morning while my grandfather and Riley mowed hay. The book began with Longfellow and ending one hundred poems later with Rudyard Kipling. I looked through the poetry and exclaimed again and again while Gramp continued to grin.”
The seeds of who we will become are planted within us by our intentions and actions. What seeds will you and I plant early in the deep snows of January and nurture through the spring months of March and April and tend through our brief summary of June and July and harvest in August and September this year? It is inevitable that we will create a list of resolutions we want to achieve in the coming year. It is ingrained in our nature, even as we know so many of our best intentions made in January somehow fall to the wayside by the time we reach February. But the ones that stick, that become through false starts, stumbles and setbacks, those we return to and pick up again and again are the ones that will become a bountiful harvest later in the year. Which ones are important enough for us to carry, tattered and misshapen through this year?
Because some resolutions become annual repeats, we try new strategies to help us stay on the course. For me, “lose weight” becomes “be healthy” and “balance my budget” becomes “be financially independent.” I am mostly an optimistic person and by putting a positive spin on my resolution I am hoping to encourage myself.
In my walk of faith I have come up with two goals both with succinct phrases to remind me of a deeper call. The first is to “seek God.” These two words contain a plethora of possibilities: to read the Bible every day, to pray every day, to read more religious literature, to attend church every Sunday and to go to morning Mass on Tuesdays and Adoration on Thursdays.
Rather than grow frustrated when I forget to read the designated chapters in my Bible in a year and give up entirely, when I say seek God, I will remember that beneath all of these tasks what I am truly trying to do is to grow closer to God, day by day by whatever means necessary. By following this strategy I will never fail because with each day that I say seek God and do one thing, just one with my intention sent forth toward God, asking him to draw me closer, I open my heart and grow closer to God. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)
My second resolution is trust God. I hate to admit it, but this is the more difficult of the two goals for me. Like the lush brightly colored bougainvillea flower-covered branches that sway in the slightest breeze outside my mother’s window, trusting God is easy when all is well and easily as difficult when times are not. And it is in those difficult times that I will whisper these two words to myself: trust God, trust God. “But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.” (Psalm 52:8)
If we put these two resolutions into practice over the coming 365 days, they will turn us toward God day by day. When we murmur seek God, it will be the reminder we need to pick up our Bible and read a few verses, to take a moment when we get behind the wheel of our car in the morning to bow our heads and ask God for his blessing on our efforts that day, to remember the compassion of Jesus when we would rather share our anger, and to go to church first, rather than to brunch, because we know the community and communion we receive nourishes our souls.
And when we say trust God, and after we have said it to ourselves one hundred times on those sleepless nights when we are most afraid of the unknown, we will receive the harvest of consolation from God’s kind heart which will lead us into deep conversation with him on those dark nights of the soul. And there we will find our peace.
My 2019 resolutions are to be healthier and financially independent but more importantly, to seek God and trust God forever. Amen.
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