I listened to discussion on the radio last night about one of the current hot topics, gun control. One woman, who had been shot as a teenager, said it didn’t change her outlook on the subject – she still supported owning guns. She said something like, without guns being available, the shooter would still have gotten one.
An earlier report, several days before, shed the most light on this subject. The study’s author found that the majority of gun-related deaths, almost two thirds, were from self-inflicted wounds. Suicide. So while we dance around the elephant in the room, addressing the more horrific incidents of violence, the current dialogue does nothing for the greatest number. Seems to me kind of an opposite use of the Pareto Principle, the 80-20 rule.
But as is usually the case with these topics, my thoughts turn to Jesus and how he modeled life. What would he have done? I think it’s cliche to say he would abhor them, even if I cite the passage about those who use the sword. Instead, I look at how he cherished life. All life; but especially the downtrodden, the ignored, the shamed. It comes down to values. Do you value life? Do you value life so highly that in addition to taking care of yourself, to protecting animals, to protecting the unborn, to caring for the sick, you wouldn’t think to kill another human being?
Is life that precious to you? Or is it only your own?
This week the hope is that sometimes your change is second nature, accomplished without thinking about it. Today is the Feast of St. Joseph. He’s touted as a great worker, but I haven’t read much about him. I wonder what a piece of his carpentry work would fetch today? My guess is an unbelievable amount. In this Lenten practice, this is our last week of focusing on what we are changing, as next week is Holy Week, and we spend that time in reflection without action. I think once something becomes second nature, automatic, we achieve that same level.
I had a dream last night that I was pleading with a group of politicians to look out for what was best for the country, not just their party. Although a lot of them seem to be older than me, they act like they are from the ‘Me’ generation. (I think I was before that…I think.)
Then I read this morning’s poem, Divided, and was amazed that it was about that very same thing. (And no, I had not read it the night before or the day before, if you’re wondering.)
I also realized, after reading the thought for the day, that there is a difference between examination and reflection. I considered this because I’ve been struggling with saying out of one side, ‘don’t judge where you are’ and then asking you to reflect on what is happening. How is that not judging? Well, to me, the difference is this: Examination is a head activity, where you are evaluating and inspecting what you’ve done and coming to a conclusion, a judgment. Reflection, however, comes from the heart. It is not judgmental; it is more a sensing of where you are, what you’ve experienced. Rather than analytical it’s experiential.
We’re taking action this week, maybe not all the time, but some of the time. We’re in the process of changing, which may include episodes of old behavior mixed with the new. As we become more immersed in the present moment, we become more aware, and reflect as we live, rather than in hindsight. It truly opens one’s eyes to life.
Mid-week in our first week of taking action, where we’re taking it slowly, sometimes still observing our old behavior while we evaluate what we should be doing instead; and sometimes taking action. It’s funny how when you think about it you can easily choose the right response, but when the heart becomes engaged, another part of you takes over. Don’t fret. It takes longer for the heart to follow and get with the program.
I had a dream last night, and in it an old friend was asking about whether a task could be automated, and said they understood if I wouldn’t or couldn’t do it, since I didn’t attend their church anymore. I said I could do it–it had nothing to do with attending their church; and I mentioned that the church was like any other club, it had monthly dues, too. She said, ‘Yeah, but these dues are much higher!’
I think however you express your faith, that is up to you, and as you move this Lent toward a new behavior, you’ll see others respond to you differently. I hope each day is a new day for you, full of promise and fulfillment.
The discovery period is over. You should now understand how you want to change your response in the given situations. My guess is you are already using the new response, at least some of the time. I think this is the beauty of being deliberate. The more you become aware of the present moment, the more naturally you respond to it.
And when they say, ‘Time flies,’ I think it flies fastest when you are focused on the moment. You don’t realize or think about time anymore, and thus when you look up, so much time has passed and it has seemed to be nothing. I imagine that’s the way it is when we are reunited with God. We become present to the moment and to our creator, and time loses all meaning.
I think that happened to me this weekend, which is why I missed several posting days. I had read the reflection for the day, but missed posting something here. I look forward to the coming week.
P.S. I was made aware of another prayer site that is excellent, and includes daily prayers, here. I find it very familiar in some cases to my own thinking.