"Do now, do now, what you will wish to have done when your moment comes to die." [St. Angela Merici]

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Too Young to Succeed or Too Old to Be of Value?

By Micky Wolf

I read something the other day that made me laugh out loud, to an empty room no less.

Got me to thinking about the conundrums we create for ourselves. Like we don’t have enough important things to focus on without making life more complicated?

The article in question made note of a group of young people eager to share they were finding success in their chosen field. From their perspective, in spite of their youth.

I should have such a problem. No, wait a minute, I do—in the other extreme. I fret about succeeding and being of value—in spite of my age.

By the time you put the “too young” numbers at one end of the spectrum and the “too old” at the other end—let me assure you, for one reason or another, there’s not a whole lot of space left in between.

Which leads me to the simple green tomato metaphor—and the wisdom lesson contained therein.

You may or may not like tomatoes of any shape or color. Fine. That’s not the point.

The reality is—before a tomato is red, it’s not. But because someone, somewhere, at some time got the idea the green ones might be just as tasty in a different way, many tomato aficionados now have plenty of opportunities to experience this culinary delight.

Green or red, each stage of the maturation of this fruit offers something unique and special. Why would we want to choose one as the best, or of more value than the other?

There are occasions when owning our age is appropriate. A six-year old has no business trying to get a driver’s license (at least not in this country). On the other hand, does that negate the option for a sixty year old?

Methinks it’s way too easy to spend way too much time pigeonholing one another into an age defined box—young or old. To insist a number represents such importance is to risk stifling the ingenuity, creativity, and contributions to the human good that may be on the brink of discovery—by people like you. Or me.

So, here’s to this year’s tomato crop—any way you slice, dice, sauté, fry, dry, or sauce ‘em.

How important is age to me?

How do I feel about the number of my years?

Do I feel limited by my age? Why?

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Why Are You Sleeping?

By Micky Wolf
The disciples must have been jolted with a rude awakening when Jesus asked that no holds barred question of them as the evening unfolded in the Garden of Gethsemane. He then proceeds to tell them to get up and go pray, that they may not undergo the test. (Luke 22:46 NAB)

There are a hundred plus examples in Scripture of Jesus asking questions—of the rich, the poor, the infirmed, the healthy, the young and the old. Why are you sleeping? Has to be one of the toughest. It is a question capable of penetrating the deepest nooks and crannies of our comfortable lives. It is one is capable of stirring us out of complacency. Or not.

While you and I might not have been part of that gathering in the literal sense, I wonder how many times we find ourselves dozing off when it would be better to be alert and awake. Or ambling through life physically “awake”, but too often oblivious to the world around us?

And therein lies the challenge—are you and I among the walking asleep? And what does that mean, in practical terms?

Let us consider and ponder…

Looking at the person ringing up our purchases, yet being so sleepy we fail to see their drooping shoulders, the weariness in their face. We miss the opportunity to offer a word of encouragement.

Hearing the frustration in the voice of a spouse or friend, yet in being half-awake, failing to listen without interruption to their unspoken plea for a caring presence. We miss the opportunity to give them the gift of acceptance and compassion.

Noticing the long lines of people standing outside the food pantry giveaway, yet being so concerned with getting to our next appointment we fail to see them as our neighbor, as members of our extended community. We miss the opportunity to make a contribution of time or talent to help alleviate their hunger.

Passing by the hospital, the center for the aging or terminally ill, yet being so centered on self and personal comfort we fail to acknowledge the loneliness and emptiness that mark the life of so many of those out of sight, out of mind. We miss the opportunity to share a few moments of conversation that may bring welcome light to the darkness.

Why are you sleeping?

Getting up from our slumber—physical, emotional, or spiritual—requires action on our part. Action that is preceded by a desire to be willing to be alert, present in the world in this moment.

Going to pray, that we many not undergo the test of our love and faithfulness to our one true God, will likely not be the first thing we want to do.

On the other hand, what if in our choosing to doze or sleep, we fail to see with the eyes of our heart that it is our reluctance and resistance to opening ourselves to others and their suffering that we are really avoiding?

Sleeping is a temporary fix.

May we choose, this day, to get up and go about the business of being fully awake, loving and serving others.

How do I feel when I encounter a Jesus-question like this one?

Do I find myself dozing when staying awake would be the better choice?