Awe and Wonder
Inspired by Oblate Fr Ron Rolheiser’s book (The Shattered Lantern), I want to reflect on the issue of feeling bored by life. I think we can all remember days when we get out of bed and say something like this:
Accountant: “not another dumb day working with the same dumb numbers!”
Lawyer: “not another dumb day working with criminals or transferring land!”
Mother: “not another dumb day cleaning the same dumb house as yesterday!”
Priests: “not another dumb day saying the same prayers again!”
Factory Workers: “not another dumb day pushing boxes around the dumb factory!”
When are young, we are often amazed and excited by the world but, for many people, it becomes boring, tedious, no excitement or little joy. During the day, we complain and perhaps become grumpy: always negative comments. Then, at night we turn to drugs, alcohol or pornography to spice up our lives and make “me” feel better.
The key to slowing down this process of change from awe and wonder to boredom and complaining, is chastity. Now, before you all get “excited” chastity is not a sexual term, but it is rarely used outside of sexual actions.
Chastity, or being chaste, is waiting for the right time and the right place for everything we do and say. We demand that children be chaste in regard to alcoholic drinks. There is a time and place for everything: chastity helps us remain filled with wonder for longer in life.
Older generations have to help the younger generations remain chaste over many things. That is how we help build a secure and peaceful world for them and ourselves as time passes.
By the time we cease being full of daily wonder about the world, we hopefully become full of wonder about the beauty of the human person. Our youth have so much energy and goodness in them that our joy, as older people, is to bless them and suffer for them.
And, so, I’m inviting us to focus on the First Reading given to us today:
“The Lord has given me a disciple’s tongue. So that I may know how to reply to the wearied.”
The wearied are those who no longer see beauty and wonder around them. One of the ways we discover beauty and joy, is to help others rediscover beauty around them.
“Each morning he wakes me to hear, to listen like a disciple.” Regular spiritual connection is important. We are not batteries, we are human beings. We cannot go on until we crash and then just re-charge like a mobile phone. The regular connection helps us “see” because we are constantly reminded to wonder and be grateful.
“For my part, I made no resistance, neither did I turn away. I offered my back to those who struck me…” When we feel gratitude and see goodness around us, it is easier (not easy), to react more gently when people criticise us.
“I know I shall not be shamed.” Be filled with hope and the strength of our faith so that we don’t need to feel ashamed.
As a teenager I always felt humiliated and angry when people picked on me because I thought being manly meant to fight back and win. After learning Taekwondo so I could fight back, I realised I didn’t need to fight. Because I felt secure inside. People insulting me was like pigeons squawking around you as you walk on the footpath. Not worth worrying about.
You might be wondering what has this got to do with Palm Sunday and Holy Week? We can stand in awe and wonder at what God was willing to do for us.
Can we recall the words of Jesus Himself?:
“I bless you Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth for revealing these things to mere children…”
As we enter this Holy Week, can we spend more time talking and working with younger people who need encouragement and guidance, to give them limits to protect their wonder?
Part of our cross in life is to place limits on our behaviour and for those around us: especially our children. It’s not always well received, but later they will appreciate, and we will have a beautiful future.
By Gerard Conlan, OMI