Today I was remembering a story that Fr. Timothy Gallagher tells. He speaks about a man who was having a difficult time deciding to exercise. He finally makes the decision. The first day he drives to the exercise place, but doesn’t go in. The second day, the same. He’s having trouble deciding to continue with his decision. As he tells this story, many people begin to laugh–probably because we all have been there. However, Fr. Gallagher surprises us by his view of this situation. He says, “This is holy ground. Here is a man who is trying to do the right thing. This is holy ground.”
A perspective that is well worth thinking about.
Perhaps many of you have already read Pope Benedict’s homily from First Vespers this past Sunday, but I wanted to draw your attention particularly to this part and encourage you to try to do what he suggests for Advent:
Advent, this intense liturgical time that we are beginning, invites us to pause in silence to grasp a presence. It is an invitation to understand that every event of the day is a gesture that God directs to us, sign of the care he has for each one of us. How many times God makes us perceive something of his love! To have, so to speak, an “interior diary” of this love would be a beautiful and salutary task for our life! Advent invites and stimulates us to contemplate the Lord who is present. Should not the certainty of his presence help us to see the world with different eyes? Should it not help us to see our whole existence as a “visit,” as a way in which he can come to us and be close to us, in each situation?
You can read the entire address here. (It is worth reading.) Do try to take some time daily to take note in your “interior diary” of how God has loved you. (This will remind some of you of Fr. Gallagher’s talks on the examen.) And know that we all wouldn’t mind your sharing an entry or two here as a comment.
God looks at our best efforts and comes to our help.
I have been trying to establish a regular pattern of walking for exercise, and last week only managed to do a third of what I would have liked and started to get discouraged. I have a perfectionistic personality–which I’ve found harder and harder to live with as I’ve gotten older. 🙂 But then I remembered a story that Fr. Tim Gallagher shared during a series of talks he gave at our parish. I’m not sure if I’ll remember all the details, but I do remember the point. From what I remember, the story was of a priest who for medical reasons needed to start exercising more regularly. But he wasn’t a lover of exercise. He would get up, get dressed, drive to the gym, but then turn around and go home. The next morning he would get up, get dressed, drive to the gym, turn around and go home–without ever exercising. Fr. Tim’s point was how good it was that he at least got up, got dressed and drove to the gym. That was an accomplishment! A step in the right direction. So I applied that to my situation last week–at least I walked once that week! That’s better than nothing. As long as I keep trying . . . A good principle for our spiritual lives as well.
Reminds me of something from Therese. She uses the analogy of a little child trying to climb the stairs. She keeps trying to lift her foot to go up the stairs, but is too little to make it. “At the top of those stairs, he [Jesus] is looking at you lovingly. Soon conquered by your vain efforts, he will come down himself, and taking you in his arms, will carry you forever into His kingdom where you will not leave him again. But if you stop lifting your little foot, he will leave you on earth for a long time.” As long as we keep trying . . . or driving to the gym . . . or trying to be kind . . . or deciding to pray even though it’s very dry and distracted.