March 2000I will not gather flowers,...   St. John of the Cross

Every Day Is A Good One

On that long trip, I mused on what it would be like to live life fully for six weeks. Recently, three of us made a trip by car. To help the time pass more quickly, we sponsored our own traveling theological seminar, starting with our current understanding of God and how this compared with the running beliefs of other people. It was a sort of manifestation of the catechism of the heart.

In view of the upcoming season of Lent, gradually we chanced upon the topic of penance, together with all its dark and somber nuances. One of the passengers said that, for her, the best definition of sin was the failure to live life fully. All of this led me to meditating on what it would be like to really accept my own humanity. Doing this for six weeks seemed like a good place to begin.

Fr. Rahner points out that the acceptance of our humanity brings our existence and the existence of God together. Paradoxically, our total being with all its poverty and neediness is oriented towards the fullness of God. If we were honest, most of us would admit that we would like to be cured of our humanity. We wish that we could choose the good parts and somehow get rid of the rest.

What does it mean to be human? It means that on some days we wake up and are happy to see another day. On other days, we force ourselves to open the shades. Some days, we walk with a spring in our steps. At other times, our bodies drag us down. Sometimes, we pray well. At other times, we are unable to entertain the smallest pious thought. St. Teresa of Avila said that she experienced this.

We know what it means to be happy and what it means to be sad. We have the experience of knowing what life is all about and we have our moments of feeling completely lost and abandoned. Sometimes, we think we know who God is and who we are. At other times, all of this seems absurd and unreal.

Is there a special something underneath these movements that keeps our lives together, something that is constant? Is there a hidden treasure in the struggle? The spiritual writers tell us that all the events of life that happen to us reveal to us, and bring to real life, our hidden identity. In these events, we come to know our own goodness, beauty and strengths, treasures hidden in the depths that we would never have known otherwise. These events make mystics of us. We come to know the other faces of God and of ourselves. All that happens to us expands the heart and makes our world bigger.

To say that we will make a conscious effort to accept our humanity seems to be a good project for Lent. As ashes are placed on the forehead, most people eagerly begin the season. (It occurs to me that maybe we should think of the ashes as symbolizing the goodness of our humanity a humanity which God took on and loved.) At any rate, often our firm resolutions grow pale as the weeks go by and the activities of the Spring season set in. I personally like to choose something concrete that keeps the good resolutions before me. Some years ago, the theme of being fully human emerged during retreat. At the close of the retreat, I found a clown and named it "Fully." I kept it where I would see it."Fully" kept me in touch with my own good intentions.

The aim of life is not only to accept our humanity, but to love it and to see it as good. This is the one place where God always chooses to meet us. Every morning, God greets us there when we awake.

Sister Mary Jo Loebig, O.C.D.

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