Saturday, April 21, 2007

Mercy and Trust in Storms

The Responsorial Psalm, either recited or sung during Mass, is often the neglected "middle child" of Sacred Scripture. I like to encourage daily Mass attendees to use that refrain they repeat 2-4 times at Mass as their "meditation for the day", to help them see God's presence in whatever happens to them as the day goes on.

Today's refrain, "Lord, let your mercy be upon us as we place our trust in you", is a great one to reflect upon, particularly as it relates to the readings which it preceded and followed. Whether it's the grumblings of the widows in Acts 6, or the squall that tossed the apostle's boat in John 6, storms are going to come up in our lives.

This past week I was away with some priest friends on a trip which involved flying on the night that the whole east coast was being hit with a storm. I'm not a good flyer, but I know that it's necessary timewise and statistically a pretty safe way to travel. But that doesn't mean I like flying through turbulence. Believe me, I was asking God for both mercy and the grace to trust the flight crew as we climbed up through the storm in order to get above it. But, looking back, the plane had an interesting collection of reactions to the turbulence. Little children were laughing (not knowing what was happening), some slept through it as if nothing was going on (obviously they'd been through this before), and others (like me) made Acts of Contrition and waited for the big white light.

The storms in our lives are relative things. What I consider the storms of my life would probably be insignificant to some people as well as unbearable to others. The bumps in the first 15 minutes of my flight made the minor shaking during our descent at the end of the ride seem insignificant. But, knowing myself, I'm also aware that had there been no turbulence at the start, those bumps at the end would've made me crazy. You think anyone with children enrolled at Virginia Tech have spent the last few days lamenting their child's grades last semester or their child's credit card bills?

What are the "bumps" in your life? How do you handle them? Do you scrub the trip and avoid the bumps altogether? Or, with your trust in (the oft-used cliche) "God as your co-pilot", are you willing and able to ride through the turbulence to achieve your goal?

Today's snippet in the Office of Readings of the Liturgy of the Hours for the Feast of St. Anselm of Canterbury gives this beautiful reflection on God in his work, "Proslogion":

"The light in which you dwell, Lord, is beyond my understanding. It is so brilliant that I cannot bear it, I cannot turn my mind's eye toward it for any length of time. I am dazzled by its brightness, amazed by its grandeur, overwhelmed by its immensity, bewildered by its abundance. ... O God, let me know you and love you so that I may find my joy in you; and if I cannot do so fully in this life, let me at least make some progress every day, until at last that knowledge, love, and joy come to me in all their plenitude. While I am here on earth let me learn to know you better, so that in heaven I may know you fully."

THAT'S why we trust God. THAT'S why we ask for mercy. THAT'S what waits for us when we cross through the storms in our lives and make it to the other shore, where Jesus says "It is I; do not be afraid."

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