August 1999Reveal Your Presence to us.   St. John of the Cross


Recently, I participated in a rather unique, but commonplace, type of paraliturgy. The setting was a gift shop in New York. The group consisted of ten people, or so, involved in the ritual of bonding with special greeting cards mounted on tall skinny turntables. The atmosphere was one of quiet and meditation.

When I returned home with the fruit of my probing search, I reflected on the cards I had chosen, and used them for prayer. One of the cards bore a quote from Thoreau. It read, "Live the life you have imagined." Surprisingly, my first thought was not one of my own personal dreams, but that of what an ideal community might be, whether it be that of religious life, the community of married life, or simply the community of common life in the workplace. When I awake each morning, what is the world I would most like to see? It is taken as a given that most people would want to see a world where the poor are satisfied and the oppressed liberated. But as we come closer to our everyday homespun situation, what is the life we imagine?

For me, the life I imagine is a world where people are happy and living in harmony, where there is stimulating and creative work for all. I imagine a world where everyone has adequate rest, companionship and time for exercise, and where people believe that they can profit from any life situation, knowing that God is always at work loving this earth of ours. Secretly, with apologies to John of the Cross, I imagine a world where people have a felt experience of God daily, a felt experience which bolsters and strengthens one's faith. In the quote from Thoreau, the verb is in the present tense. I, myself, am called to live the life I imagine, now, and not wait for another, to get it started, nor wait for the ideal situation. Perhaps, it would be good to expand Thoreau's quote to read: Live the life you imagine, today, right where you are, in the context of God's creation which is yours at this moment. Elsewhere, the acclaimed author, Goethe, tells us that whatever we dream of doing, or even think we can do, we should do at once. In addition, St. Ignatius would encourage us to pray for the grace.