Friday, April 17, 2015

Joyfully Breaking the Rules

Photo Credit: Mark Grace
The poet Samuel Hazo once remarked on the instinctive ability children have to frame day-to-day life in poetic terms. He quoted one child who, after bouncing a ball, stated, “Look how I made that ball happy!” 

Another child observed the swirl of autumn leaves stirred by a passing car and exclaimed, “That car woke up all those leaves.” 

My favorite poem is by a Japanese boy fulfilling a school assignment. He wrote,
I wet my bed today.
My father is angry with me,
My sister won’t speak to me.
Everyone thinks I should be ashamed.
I’m not ashamed.
In fact, I’m happy!
These children all express ways of seeing life and of feeling about themselves that could be called wrong. We know that balls don’t feel, that leaves don’t sleep, and we may wish that all young children would approach the task of potty training with great seriousness.

I want to suggest, however, that there may be a price to pay when we too zealously pursue an “adult” way of looking at the world. Or take for granted our adult emotional responses (or lack thereof) to certain situations. While genuine faith certainly requires all of our reasoning and intelligence, it also requires a devoted imagination.

The Gospel encourages us to purposefully respond to life in ways that are often very different from what social and cultural conventions lead us to expect.

The Apostle Paul begged us to "be not conformed to this current age, but be transformed by the renewing of your understanding . . ."

Christ challenged us to become like little children, so that we might see the kingdom of heaven. We are also encouraged to respond to spiritual poverty, hunger, thirst and persecution as potential blessings, and to rejoice when we encounter difficult, character-testing circumstances in life. 

Applying the Gospel to our lives requires that we determine to lay aside our ideas and expectations of the world as we have been taught to see it. 

The Holy Spirit is even now coaxing us to trust that God might have something different and infinitely better in mind for us than the rules that we have made up in our heads. 

Photo Credit: Mark Grace

That kind of faith has the power to create prophets and apostles. 

Faith like that also sustains a legion of everyday heroes. 

Like the executive who begins to treat her job as a God-given vocation, or the father who sees parenting as more than telling and teaching but who eagerly seeks to discover the ways his children are pointing him to the Kingdom of Heaven. 

Or you, sitting there as you read this essay, pondering what it is that you could possibly be happy about in a week like the one you have been experiencing.

How have you let the Spirit open your eyes and make your heart receptive to wonder and joy?  Leave a comment!


Photo Credit:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Join the conversation! Leave a comment.