Striving to be a disciple of Jesus.
Wow. Quite a challenge.
Seems so easy to say. Just go along all day, being nice, smiling, never losing your temper, never being abrupt, never being dismissive, never treating others unjustly, being loyal - just being the perfect disciple. Be that person who is just a walking model of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit.
When you meet such a person, I would like to be the first to know. Sometimes I think that chasing the attributes of the Fruits is akin to being a bit robotic and unnatural.
Because life is what happens amidst all our intentions to be that disciple. Life, that messy, complicated, happy, sad, intense, fun, joyful, hurtful, slow, quick and crazy thing that we all live.
I am pretty sure that most people start the day with good intentions. I know that I try to. When I wake up I try and think of the best thing I expect from that day. Some days it is a big thing, like succeeding in finishing a task I have been battling with, or dealing well with a difficult relationship, or finding motivation for a project at work or something joyful with family and friends. Other times it is a simple thing, like the warmer days that are here, or the prospect of a good coffee somewhere at lunchtime. But I always think of one thing. Most mornings I try and do my Bible reading before I put a toe out of bed. I have a beautiful Catholic Bible and it is used to practice the age old tradition of Lectio Divina. I started at the front of the Bible and am reading my way through, cover to cover. Each day in a column on the side, it tells you the next verses to read and it gives you something to reflect on about that reading. After reading there is a prayer in there and then an “action” or something to think about during that day. At the moment it is focused on trying to act as an image of God with everyone I deal with in my daily routine. Several days last week focused on trying to see everyone I come across in a day, as being in the image of the Lord. Trust me neither of these are as easy as it may sound. In fact some days it is damn tough to see the image of the Lord in some people. That practice of reading, reflection, prayer and daily action is known at the Lectio Divina way of working through the Bible. Really lovely. I remember shortly before my Grose Ouma died, she told me that she had read the Bible cover to cover more than 20 times in her life.
If I find that I have really battled with a particular action, then I stay with it for a day or two more, not reading further until I feel I have tried at least to overcome my difficulty with it. In addition at night I usually do the Gospel reading for each day. Like any human being, there are days that I do not get to it in the morning, too tired, too grumpy, too stressed, oversleeping .... these happen. I found that buying a little zip bag for my Bible helped. I put it in the car every morning so when I find a time in the day, I do the reading, praying and action seeking then. Luckily for me I am right opposite the church 5 days a week, and have literally forty steps to Adoration from my office, 5 days a week. Plenty of opportunity. I have even been known to do my readings whilst having a cappuccino at Jess at Cafenio. Or by the fountain outside my office door, or sitting on the steps of my office, or in the Garden of Remembrance, or on the boss’ back lawn. That is the beauty of Bible reading - it is an anywhere, anytime, any situation kind of book.
Right now it is almost 1am and I am writing this in the Adoration Chapel in the church, during my Perpetual Adoration hour. I am right in front. This iPad is on two cushions, balanced on a chair which I have turned to face me. Right up close, front and centre in front of me is the monstrance. This way I can both write and chat to the Lord at the same time.
He likes this blog so far. I asked him. I pause every now and then to continue chatting to the Lord, because I have much on my mind. I even asked him a few minutes ago - “what is your plan for this issue I have now, because I assume you have a plan?”. Sometimes our lives lead us in a way which has us wondering why we are wandering around in a seemingly pitch dark forest, unable to clear our minds, find direction, find answers, find solace. That is what I now debate with God. It is a funny relationship. I talk, rant, ask questions and then I wait. The answer comes in the silence. Sometimes I get it from Him right away. Other times it takes several days before I find the answer. But I have to listen for it. I do not always agree with His suggestions, but I focus always on the fact that the answer I want is not always the answer that I need.
So this week I am going to focus on answers. Solutions. Fix-it methods. Try and be part of that corny saying “don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution”.
That is of course if I do not forget about the disciple of Jesus thought, and throttle someone.
C’est la vie