If you are like me, you have probably been yelling at your TV this week about the lack of serious stewardship toward the environment. The sheer depth of violence unleashed on the Gulf over a month ago simply boggles the mind. There’s nothing I feel I can do. It’s a helpless feeling and very unsettling. It is like a ripple that affects everything outward.
Being “off balance” certainly does affect the way I think and distracts me from what is really important, my relationships, my ability to focus on tasks at hand and even my ability to pay attention to my doggie, who needs a lot of attention these days. This is not a good thing because I am living in the now, here on the West Coast and not in N.O. It is very frustrating and I know that it is counter productive.
When I look at my plate I realize that there are many things I “should” be concerned about. (That “should” is one of those words that comes from outside myself like guilt and acts like a hammer on my head.) Yesterday I attended two meetings at my former school. The first was a pre-production meeting for a project I am working on for the Adult Spirituality department and it involves producing 3 videos to be used in Jesuit high schools around the country to help lay faculties understand the Jesuit charism. Once funds are released I will be traveling around the country video-taping and interviewing people for the production. It is hoped that with these educational videos, lay people will have insight and participate in the broader mission of Jesuit schools, “finding God in All Things,”Men and women for and with others,” and “Contemplatives in Action.” Because it has taken a year for this to get off the ground, my emotions have had the ebb and flow of excitement (’tis the Irish in me). But after yesterday, it seems that the project will begin this summer and the editing, tweaking and workbook will be completed by Spring of 2011. I love making videos. This is a passion of mine and should (there’s that word again) give me that elusive peace. It is hard work, but rewarding work and I am up to the challenge. Now in the time it took me to write this, countless gallons of crude has poured into the waters of the Gulf. That’s what I mean about the push-pull of emotions not allowing me to focus and disturbing my peace.
The other meeting was with the St. Ignatius choir kids and their parents about our forthcoming tour to Rome and Spain. This adventure will start on the 15th of June and run about two weeks. The kids will be singing in all the significant venues that have a Jesuit connection, beginning with a concert in St. Peter’s in Rome. I am leading the tour once the group gets to Spain. We will be visiting the “Ignatian” sites in Rome, Barcelona, Manresa, Loyola finally leaving for the states from Bilbao the birthplace of Pedro Arrupe, S.J. The tour is another adventure that should bring joy. Not so much hanging with teenagers, although I could think of worse scenarios, but returning to one of my most favorite places on the planet outside of Dublin, Barcelona. It will be prayerful. I am starting to get excited in anticipation.
I think sometimes when we think of “peace” we think of no wars, no arguments, no disagreements. Those are exterior forces working and in many ways are fragile at best. So, if I really want peace, it needs to start with me looking in a mirror and knowing that, in spite of everything, I am ok and that I am loved. I have the power to control how I respond to negative stimulus and I only need to remember to co-operative with the Spirit of light so that my interior peace doesn’t get completely sapped
One of the side benefits from the meetings yesterday was connecting with former colleagues and students in passing. Unfortunately my time constraints and commitments did not allow me the leisure time to spend quality time with them and “catch up.” This is not good. I think what I need is to laugh, tell stories and listen to their stories. As Mother Teresa once said “A smile is the beginning of peace.” To make this happen, I need to make time. I talked about this in the homily I gave at the end-of-year Transition Mass.” It has been almost a year and a day since I gave that in front of the student body. Maybe I “should” re-read that and follow my own advice.
I need to remember that as I watch the disaster in the Gulf unfold via live streaming cam from the bottom of the ocean. Perhaps it is again time to get up off the couch walk over to the mirror and laugh at myself. It won’t clean up the marsh lands, but it will probably give me renewed energy knowing that God has a sense of humor and is still with me after all these years.