It is hard to believe that when this column appears we will be in the month of September! Yikes! Where does time go? I must admit I like the Fall season that is just weeks away, but with its arrival I do dread the fact it is the harbinger of what I consider a long winter season. Nonetheless, just as I am reminiscing a bit these days about my excitement when a new school year arrived (yes, I was one of those kids!); I would like to enter the next few months with a positive attitude and enjoy the moment, rather than worry about events I can’t control.
One thing I can remember doing as a kid on warm and sunny autumn days is lying on my back in my parents’ backyard and watching the clouds and jets go by in the blue sky. I think this image might be something to hold onto as a way of appreciating the moment and not allowing every minute of the day to get filled up despite our return to fuller event calendars after the summer hiatus. However, that is one thing that does concern me—no matter what time of year it is, the pace of life doesn’t seem to slow down!
It wasn’t always that way. Change of seasons, especially north of the Mason-Dixon line, used to mean a change of activities and maybe even a bit of hibernation. Certainly from nature, we can see how such practices could help recharge one’s life. Nowadays, however, the operative word is “accessibility.” I can’t help but wonder if the fatigue many feel in their lives (including me) is a result of feeling always “on call” without the necessary “down time.” It certainly doesn’t help that we have become a society seeking instant availability and answers while not always giving people time to think things through.
As I have been reflecting on the life and ministry of Jesus, I have come to see that (1) even he tried to get away from the crowds and rat race of life when he went by himself to an “out of the way place” or got into a boat with the hopes he wouldn’t be followed; and (2) even when “everybody was looking for him,” Jesus couldn’t meet everyone’s need, but he did what he could and then relied on others to pick up the mission and share the load.
I think that is what is percolating in my mind these days as we move forward to the preparatory stages for both the Synod of Bishops in Rome and for our own Diocesan Synod: “How can we help one another share the load and continue the mission Jesus left his disciples with, in the world?”
I am very much looking forward to “Listening Sessions” that will begin later in October and conclude in the Spring. For me, these sessions will be a time to just listen and receive the collective wisdom of our diocesan family. From what is learned, with the help of various Diocesan Councils—such as the Diocesan Pastoral Council, the Presbyteral Council, the Council of Deacons, the Council of Religious, etc.—we will begin to formulate the working documents for discussion at the Diocesan Synod. Yet, notice that before we can begin to put forth an agenda, we need a season of listening and reflection.
Servite Sister Joyce Rupp in writing about the season of Autumn in a 2018 reflection titled “Autumn and Impermanence” says:
If we want to be spiritually transformed it is essential to include letting go as part of our journey. Each autumn I now seek inspiration from those dying leaves gathering in ever deeper layers on the ground. As the trees let go of what enabled them to sip of the nourishing rays of summer sun, their falling leaves will eventually become a rich humus to nourish spring’s greening growth. If I stay open to the inner and outer changes that naturally arise, (if I dance more and drag my feet less about impermanence), my life can be a nourishing source for personal and world transformation.
This is my goal and mission as we enter the month of September and the Fall season: to seek renewed inspiration from a new season of life. That is also my prayer for our Diocesan Church—that the coming weeks and months will find us heeding the advice found in last Sunday’s second reading from the Letter of James: “Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and…be doers of the word and not hearers only” (Jas. 1:21b-22).
And so we pray:
O Lord, please open my eyes to see more of You.
I know You are here. I know You love us.
O Lord, let me know Your love deeply
in my heart, and not only in my mind.
O Lord, please hold my faith together
and keep me hoping, believing,
expecting good things from You,
because You are faithful, almighty and good.