How is the new year treating you so far? For me, it’s been rockier than I expected. A longtime, active member of my church passed away unexpectedly. Another friend’s fifteen-year-old dog-child passed away, leaving his grieving human parents and a littermate behind. My own routine mammogram required follow-up lab work, prompting thoughts of mortality — unwarranted, thank goodness. Not really the happy new year those Christmas cards wished for us.
When things get rocky, do you find it difficult to meditate? My first instinct is to get busy — get stuff done, take care of business, work that to-do list. That busyness keeps me distracted from the grief, the fear, the disappointment that comes with unhappy news, and tries to give me a sense of accomplishment to make me feel better. Accomplishments, yes. Feeling better, not so much.
And then, I heard a reading from one of Paul’s letters in church. Searching Paul’s letters later, I found this:
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. [Romans 5:1-5]
We have peace with God. Hope does not disappoint us. God’s love is poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.
Those words from Paul were a wake up call. In meditation, I can wrap myself in a blanket of peace, I can breathe into God’s love, and know that in the stillness, God will soothe the worries and grief, comforting my heart with hope. Making time to meditate, de-prioritizing or postponing a thing or two on that endless list of things that need my attention — that is what I really need in times like these.
Here we all are, at the beginning of a new year. As the Pirates ride at Disneyland says, thar be squalls ahead. Maybe right now, maybe later, but this is real life, and it’s not all sweetness and light every day of the year. So when times are rocky, remember to hope, remember to meditate. As Paul tells us,
Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.
Delivered at Resurrection Catholic Church, Aptos, California, on January 11, 2020.