There is Always a Bigger Picture

There is Always a Bigger Picture June 14, 2024

Recently, I took a quiz from my local paper about where I want to go –and the bottom line is, I want to be by a pool or body of water with little to stop me from doing, or from doing nothing.   I grew up with the beach as an expectation and reality, not a possibility.   Now, it feels like life is too busy and too full to stop for such a long time, much less to be that still. 

I know, this is what is missing, the stillness that comes from being surrounded by water, by sand, by wind, by a world of nature so strong and wonderful and yet untamed.  It is my prayer place, and so much more than a happy place, it is a place I walk to find peace by walking until my legs say it is time to turn around.   My spirit says, it is time for a serious walk.  


However, we still have three days of school left, a graduation and a party to plan, so the walking will have to wait.  That left figuring out how to have that still time that writing, prayer, fishing and walking on the beach create.  For my husband, it’s gardening and hiking and listening to symphonies.  I started thinking about my children and where they become contemplative.  For one, it’s art.  For another, it’s running.  For a third, it’s dancing, and for two of the youngest, walking and drawing.  The one in Chicago loses herself in listening to music and cooking and growing herbs and plants.  I thought of my third son, he plays music and listens to it, and falls into books.   The contemplative is a necessary part of life, a part that gets lost in this busy world.   We do not understand, as Martha did not understand, the better portion.  

Sometimes writing it out, helps.

My brain turned to these two sisters as I am preparing for a graduation party and am anxious about many things. What I should be focused on, is the goodness of this moment. Two daughters are graduating.  My mother and aunt are coming. Cousins are coming.  My brother and his family are coming.  There are many reasons to rejoice, and here I am stressing about of all things, hamburgers.    A friend pointed this out, “You  have good things to think about.”  and she’s right –memo to tell her, “thank you.” Choosing the better portion is just that, an act of the will that the soul must domesticate itself to accept, to receive.  


The grace of being still required I recognize I was being exactly not that in my life.   I needed to stop spinning and be still.  Stillness doesn’t come naturally to me except in the situations I outlined above, and so yes, it requires from me, a lot of will.   My spirit struggles to be willing and my body even moreso.

As if to underscore the point, today’s first reading talks about hearing God in the silence –and that requires that one have a docile mind, a quiet spirit, a quieted body.   Since the feast of the Sacred Heart, I’ve been trying to read the morning offering each day, and the Litany of Jesus and the Act of Consecration.  There’s been a lot of memes about anxiety being from the devil, and undue stress can certainly feel oppressive and exhausting –but God permits us to weather such things, not because they are good, but because if we cooperate with the Holy Spirit, He can bring about greater good in us.
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Yesterday was the last day of the school year for students, and one with whom I have had many frustrations, many struggles, came by at the end of the day to ask me for snacks.  I gave him my last three granola bars.  He put out his hand and shook mine.  It was a thank you.   It was meaningful in part because of all the times I’d called home or written an administrator.   God’s understanding of our struggle is so much bigger than our own understanding.   It doesn’t negate the struggle or the suffering, only it reminds me, there is always a bigger picture than just what I see.

I’d been feeling down about the year, because few students come on the last day, and I’d been gone the day before for graduation, so it felt like the school year was unfinished for me.   Now it wasn’t.    Asking God “what next” means being willing to wrestle with and for the answer.   Writing seems to be something that has become an act of the will –meaning it must be through work, rather than inspiration that the words will come and if I want it, it will require that quieting of the mind.   I’m going to try.    Why? Because again, the quiet it takes to write, fish, pray, or walk until your legs burn, helps me discover not merely what I think, but what God wants of me.

Getting back to the point of this post, I understood in a flash, that at the end of all things, I will come to my Lord and probably ask for something to eat, and He will be happy if I reach out.  He knows I’ve been a pain every semester of my life, requiring saint interventions, guardian angel intercessions, Holy Spirit infusions, oceans of forgiveness and grace and more than a few free granola bars.   I know He knows, my heart says today and every day, “Thank you.”

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