A talent that comes so naturally to a child, but one that sometimes fades as we get older, is the ability to be surprised or delighted. Those of us who think they have seen it all can be slow to hear new things or consider different ways of doing things. It’s called being “stodgy” or old fashioned or “set in your ways”.
I’m dangerously close to that. Sometimes I think I know what you’re saying before you’re done saying it. Why? Because “I’ve heard it all before.” I know how the sauce will taste because I’ve eaten Italian all my life. And of course, there are no new jokes. Really, haven’t you heard every joke in the world? “A man walks into a bar . . . “ yeah, yeah.
But something happened last weekend while I was in Syracuse that really surprised and delighted all of us. A young man (now a deacon in Syracuse, soon to be ordained a priest) gave a talk on “discernment”. How do you figure out what path in life God wants you to take?
He used this image. See what you think.
Picture you’re weaving a cloth with a shuttle and yarn attached to it. Only this cloth is suspended over your head. The garment you’re weaving is, of course, “your life”.
You view your cloth from the bottom and see several openings which will receive your shuttle. So, seeing the pattern you’ve already begun, you choose an opening that seems to best add to your cloth. You push the shuttle through and wait for its return.
Meanwhile, God is there above to receive your choice. He takes his time in returning the shuttle. He’s partnering with you as co-weaver! Finally, He drops the shuttle back down to you, but not exactly where you thought He would. It’s “over there”.
“Oh,” we think. “That changes things. Now what? Where do I send my shuttle back to Him?”
And up and down the shuttle of life goes. Each time we make the best judgment we can about life’s choices . . . Is this the person I should marry? Do I work or stay home with the children? Do I apply for the new opening at work? Where do we send the children to school? What should I say about recent developments in the family? How do I handle this new problem? Etc.
Get the picture? It’s really a nice meditation on the partnership God has with us in guiding us through our lives.
Two points seem critical to me in this process.
1. When we ponder where to send up our choices, (the shuttle) there needs to be some sort of Prayer. “Oh Lord, please guide me, enlighten me. Show me where to send this choice in life. I give it to you. Help me.” Then act with the confidence that God will indeed help your choices. He loves you!
2. When God drops the shuttle back down to you, no matter how unexpected its placement, trust that it is God’s answer to your prayer. The events of our life that follow our prayerful action is what we call God’s Providence (His loving grace given to us, His children). Trust that He has heard you and has answered your prayers.
Case in point: We prayed for months that God would guide the selection of our next bishop. Bishop Salvatore Matano is God’s answer to us! Welcome bishop! Now let’s all get to work.
God is waiting for your next prayer.