Yes. But give me a chance to explain.
I teach a couple of dual enrollment courses at a local high school and often admire the collection of inspirational quotes that have painstakingly been hand-painted on certain walls. This particular quote attributed to Adlai Stevenson faces the last hall before I get to my classroom.
I’ve read that quote dozens of times as I race down the hall toward my classroom. In fact, I’ve seen that quote so many times that I barely notice it anymore.
Today was a little different. I was still in a hurry to get to class, but for another reason. Today begins the Paschal Triduum, marking the end of Lent.
I had a few things on my mind — mostly planning my schedule for the next three days as I endeavor to attend the special liturgies that begin tonight with the Mass of The Lord’s Supper and lead to the Easter Vigil.
I look forward to this every year. In spite of being a crazy busy several days, time seems to slow down for me. It’s a gift that I don’t question. So today I found myself standing in front of Stevenson’s quote when I’d ordinarily zip right past it.
As I stood there reading it for the hundredth time, it occurred to me that I could substitute one single word in that statement and it would encompass every challenge I’ve faced this Lent:
Faith is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.
I was struck with the simplicity of it. I like shiny things and am distracted easily by anything that is new and promises to be different. Because of this, I think I have missed a great deal of opportunity for growth in my spiritual life. I want to have the epic religious conversion. I want to get, as I often tell my close friends, a memo from God that spells out everything in black and white. In short, I want to be knocked off a horse like St. Paul.
Instead, I get opportunities to wait. To practice patience. To wait some more.
I missed that I could have, should have been doing something while waiting. While I continue to wait.
I’ve come to understand that there’s a certain peace in the long haul, the daily grind of faith.
I exiled him to the office so I could clean in the kitchen, but he wanted so badly to be with me, and obey the command to stay in the office, that he tried to do a little of both. He figured he could stay and put his front paws past the threshold into the forbidden kitchen.
I feel like that these days. I’m quite comfortable where I am in my life. You could say I’m comfortable with the known.
Yet, the unknown beckons. It’s not about thinking the grass is greener elsewhere, but that I’m being called to do more. In my personal life, to finish a project that has consumed me for many years. Professionally, to take some risks and perhaps cast a wider net. Spiritually, to go deeper in my faith.
Like Otis, I’m taking some tentative steps, crossing the threshold into something new, not forbidden — on the contrary, designed just for me. I just need to stop looking around the corner and do it.
Did I have to remind you every Monday and Wednesday? Silly peeps, go on over there and see what’s cooking. Literally. As in really. Not that other literal, which means figuratively. I don’t subscribe to that definition. But I digress…go read my story about trying to make my whole family hate soup, and how a knight in shining armor, weilding banana splits, saved the day.
[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
BY E. E. CUMMINGS
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)