Thursday, January 28, 2010
Happy New Year and Decade
By Sr. Mary Jo Chaves
A new year is upon us; in fact a whole new decade is upon us. As I reflect on this, I wonder how I might live more fully and well into this second decade of the twenty-first century. I didn’t make “New Year’s Resolutions” this year. Rather, I decided to take a close look at what was already available to me without adding something “new.”
I am reminded of Paula D’Arcy’s quote: “God comes to us disguised as our life.” What is there in my life that might be a fuller expression of my call to be Christian and Franciscan? A sense of hospitality is the first thing that comes to mind. Every day I meet many people -- from those I see for spiritual direction to the grocery clerk I meet as I buy a forgotten item for dinner that evening. If I am following in the footsteps of Jesus, then the challenge is to be hospitable to all.
That really came home to me the first week of January. My brother-in-law died of a heart attack at age 90. He certainly lived a full and fruitful life. Immediate relatives numbered in the hundreds! As I walked with my sister through his funeral and our letting go of him, hospitality became primary – a hug for this grandchild, an understanding heart for a daughter who needed to talk, a patient listening to all who wanted to be sure everything was just “perfect” for the Mass of Christian Burial, and holding my sister close in my heart as she let go of her husband of 30 years. In each of these people I saw reflected back to me who Christ is and who I am. My hands and my heart were to be the hands and heart of Christ with deep genuine hospitality.
Another way to take a close look at my Christian Franciscan living is to look at my prayer practice. When the bed seems warm and cozy on these chilly winter mornings, it is a choice to get up and sit in quiet with my Beloved. It is a choice to join my community in Morning Prayer. It is a choice to pray with and for my directees. It is a choice to offer a prayer for peace to each person I meet as St. Francis of Assisi did. His greeting was always: “Peace be with you.” Francis did not pray; Francis became his prayer. That is my desire as well.
Finally, in looking at my life, I decided to take a new look at my own self-care. The commandment reads to “love your neighbor as you love yourself. That is a tall order! Getting adequate rest, eating nutritiously and exercising regularly are not things that can wait. Each day is my choice; this body I have is mine to cherish and to love. Having just recovered from a nasty cold, I am certainly in greater appreciation of my good health!
So, I invite you to take a look at this New Year 2010. What does the decade hold out for you? If you were accused of being a Christian come 2020 would there be enough evidence to convict you? Blessings on your journey!