I will be celebrating my birthday this week and well, dear friends, it’s been a year.
A new baby, a new job, a new house, an old pandemic, and on and on and on.
On the bright side, I am now well into my late 30s, and I have finally discovered that life does not get less complicated. There is no there, no final place of arrival or security that will not have challenges beyond challenges, mountains beyond mountains.
But even in the midst of all these, there is always a font of wisdom and peace, a place of rest for the weary. Often, those long-suffering times can reveal this Presence more clearly to us, and help us discover the source of deep love and peace from which we came and in which we live, and move, and have our being.
The Soul knows what the Soul needs. And each soul is unique. The crises of the past year have challenged each of us in profoundly personal ways. We are all aggravated and affected in ways we could not of predicted, and the effects continue to resonate.
And so it is good to ground ourselves in a peace that is deeper than all of these passing things. We can access this peace through prayer, contemplation, creative activities, lectio divina, or even just a quiet activity engaged with your full heart and presence. As Teresa of Avila said: “Know that even when you are in the kitchen, our Lord moves amidst the pots and pans.”
In these moments, even if we are scrubbing the casserole dish, we can learn to trust, to heal, and to find that Endless Quiet that gives new life “There lives the dearest freshness deep down things” as poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote.
And so, as young adulthood gives way to young middle age, I’ve learned that best thing you can do in the midst of troubled times is to trust your soul.
Trust that deep center in you that knows what you are and what you need. Find a time to seek that which brings you peace. Reflect on the fruits it produces. If they are good, in the midst of all that is bad, keep producing the goodness that springs from your practice. Keep creating beauty, keep pointing towards what is real and true and good and beautiful. Let the clear bright light of God’s goodness guide you, and share the fruits of that grace in the midst of a world gone mad.
I don’t always do this well, but in some ways my worries and weaknesses almost give me a greater access to it. God knows I am a needy child, and God responds with all the greater abundance of grace.
I hope, as the wrinkles grow deeper and hair grows grayer, I can keep attending to that Quiet that feeds my soul, and charges the everyday with that bright and luminous Presence, that Holy Ordinary that springs to life as my children wake for school, the coffee percolates, my wife and I hug and wish each other a good day, and the green leaves turn a translucent yellow as the sun shines in and through them.
At day’s end, when the peace and gray shadows of twilight descend, I pray it finds me in that same light, and I hope that all those I know and love can see it too.