It is disturbing to me to note the amount of time and energy I spend in pursuing
my illusion of control. And, since I have tried to be very honest during these
days of Advent let me say that control is my very favorite illusion.
In my office I have many, many things hanging on the walls. The west wall is adorned
with pictures of some of the saints who are my teachers. Among the women are
Dorothy Day, Julian of Norwich, Sister Mary Patrice Murray, Sister Joan Chittister
and Teresa of Avila. Joe and Father Richard have prominant places
on the wall along with Francis of Assisi, Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen and others.
And of course a great picture of my mom and dad is hanging among these I would
call "the wisdom keepers." I heartily recommend all of these men and
women as teachers about the illusion of control.
I have pictures of my grandsons that I change out from time to time with the latest
and greatest hanging on another wall. There is one of Noah playing Joe's drum.
Noah's joy is reflected as uncontrollable and as I remember the noise was beyond
description. Will is pictured proudly standing at the coffee table overlooking
an entire box of Cherios he has just emptied onto the table. And the picture
of Sam reminds me that my own desire to hold and kiss his sweet face is beyond
whatever self-discipline I possess. The little ones work diligently to teach
us about the folly of this illusion we have that we are on top of everything.
There is so much more hanging in this treasured space, but the wall I want to draw
your attention to now is the east wall. In a moderate place centered on that
wall I have gathered a collection of pictures and treasures that represent my
mother and my daughters. On a small card that leans against the last "studio"
picture taken of my mom for her church directory is a note in her handwriting.
She is quoting a line from one of her favorites of Joe's sermons ...... he said,
"When you have faith you give up the need for control. Faith and control
cannot peacefully coexit." This small card once marked her favorite scripture
in the inherited Bible I keep close by.
I remember the day as clearly as I am present to this moment now, when my mom looked
at me and said, "Suzanne it took me 88 years to learn that faith and control
cannot peacefully coexist. Don't you wait that long."
Hanging next to that collage of grace is a fairly large poster that reads:
"The world in which you were born is just one model of reality.
Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you;
they are unique manifestations of the human spirit." Wade Davis
And a small retablo of Jonah and the whale hangs alongside both.
As I sit in my desk chair and peruse all that surrounds me, it seems clear that I
intuitively know that I have a lot to learn about faith and control.
In today's reflection Fr. Richard talks about what he titled, "True Religion."
He explains that all the great religions each agree in their own way that finally
we are called to "transformed consciousness." John 10:30 is quoted,
when Jesus said, "I and the Father are one." And then Richard teaches
us with these words ....
"When world religions become that mature, we will have a new history, no longer
based on competition, rivalry, cultures or warfare, but on people who are actually
transformed (Galatians 6:15-16). These people will change the world, as Mary
did, almost precisely because they know it is not they who are doing the changing.
They will know they do not need to change other people, just themselves. God takes
it from there."
That last statement said to me, "Suzanne, it is not yours to change other people
or other cultures, just work on yourself."
The Question: How can you bring the gift of contemplation into your prayer life?
And my response ....... By realizing that I am not in control and that I cannot be
connected to the One who is unless I simply show up and let God take it from