A PRAYER (Printed by Ann Landers)

After awhile, you learn the subtle difference

Between holding a hand and chaining a soul.

And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning

and Company doesn’t mean security,

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts

and presents aren’t promises,

and you begin to accept your defeats

with your head up and your eyes open

with the grace of and adult, not the grief of a child,

And you learn to build all your roads on today

Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans.

And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After awhile, you learn that even sunshine burns if you

get too much.

So you plant your own garden and decorate your own 

soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers. 

And you learn that you really can endure …

That you really are strong.

And you really do have worth.

And you learn and learn …

With every goodbye, you learn. 

(Veronica Shoffstall)

We win some; we lose some. Hopefully, along the way, we learn that both are necessary for our selves and life itself. We read the stories found in the Gospels of Jesus constantly confronting the power structure; knowing that fear of radical change would place him on the cross. Jesus also knew that life requires us to let go of our fears – to die to them and in this, find eternal life. Jesus reminded his listeners that they always have the choice of life or death before them. We can enter into life by meeting the challenges and struggles head on, knowing that God is within the human spirit, calling us forward. Or we can choose death – by hanging on to our fears and refusing to let them go, trusting in that Spirit that gives life.

Life can be frustrating and challenging. We can run into failure after failure, and eventually fill ourselves with self-pity and decide to quit. We can feel sorry for ourselves, our poor me mind-set and quit; or we can push on. We can recognize that we, none of us, can accomplish every dream perfectly – we are limited. We can at the same time, recognize that we are part of something much larger than ourselves. We are able to look backward and see the human struggles; successes and failures and trace the growth of human life. We see a world wounded and wracked with pain. We also can look a bit deeper and see the hand of God in the hands of those who reach out to feed, to heal and to bring life. Each person is uniquely gifted and adds to the whole. Jesus was a rabbi; a teacher, telling stories about reaching deep within the human spirit and encountering the presence of the Creator God. In this experience, He found the fullness of life that enable him to conquer even death itself.

Faith overcomes self-pity. Self-pity leads to death. Faith leads us to life; to find within ourselves the strength to continue on in spite of all the odds, in order to bring life to oneself and to others.  The important thing about playing games is that they teach us lessons about ourselves; about life. Football, Golf, Soccer, Basketball, Baseball; all are games – they are not life – and yet they are teaching moments – experiences. They are not, contrary opinion, life or death – but they teach us that we can continue on in spite of difficulties and losses, and turn these same difficulties and losses into positive life giving experiences. Life demands struggle and pain, but in the end, brings the resurrection to something new. Life is always reaching beyond itself – part of the universe that we live in, filled with mystery and wonder. In all of our diversity, we are called to become food for others. This requires that we move out of ourselves for the sake of others. This in turn requires dedication, vision, faith, and a willingness to endure pain and loss. We are like a cornfield or wheat field, engaged in all that nature can throw at us and through this process become life giving.

Losing and Winning both are teaching/learning moments. We can learn to be vain and puffed up with a false sense of superiority or we can learn that glory passes. We can also learn from losing, a sense or awareness of humility – that we are not better or worse that others – that we are human. We can learn that self-pity only leads to depression and a lack of self-respect – we learn to quit on life itself, or we can learn to continue on in spite of difficult times and circumstances often beyond our control. Being puffed up with our selves and a false sense of vain-glory emphasize the ego – the self, believing that all others are here to serve us. We lose the Gospel value of being there for others – of service to the Common Good. The lessons that we learn depend on the choices that we make – we become responsible, recognizing that divine spirit of life within ourselves and others, calling all of life forward – constantly in transformation.




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