Monday, January 7, 2013

Rhythms of Our Life

As I pulled into the church parking lot for 6:30A mass this morning, I knew something was up.  Mine was the only car there.  The note on the church door gave notice: “New Mass Times.” 
Stopping at the coffee shop, then, to say my morning prayers, I paid for my mug and walked over to the row of coffee urns and poured my favorite mix of flavors --- but it wasn’t.  As soon as I tasted the first sip, I knew that this wasn’t “my coffee.” The decaf dispenser, which was “always” third in the row of urns, was now placed at the end; I had poured the wrong blend.  I emptied the cup and started over.
Driving home, I glanced at the sign on the gas station in town, the station which I avoided since it “always” had the highest prices around, and --- hmm, the prices have dropped 30 cents a gallon this morning.  I wonder, have they’ve changed their pricing policy?
There are so many things in our average day which “always” happen.  From the time we choose to get up to the route we choose to work, our life is on “automatic” as we roll through many things without even thinking about them.  I recall that whenever I had an early morning meeting at a different building, I almost always found myself heading towards my office before I made a mid-course correction --- my car was “on automatic” too.  Our routines form a rhythm in our life, and that is a good thing, for surely daily chaos is not desirable.  However, changes to our routine inevitably come, and often they are unbidden disruptions to our rhythm.  How we handle these changes should be a rhythm in itself.  But far too often, however, changes in our routine cause us anger:  we say things are not going “our way.”
I’m better at not giving in to anger than I once was, but still change sometimes brings about a “frustration.”  That’s an improvement.  I guess a heavenward look and a “Why me, God?” is better than cursing.  In fact, it’s a lot better, especially if I really meant what I said, and consider: “Why, God?”
It is one thing to deal with a one-time change in our routine, like the unusual early morning meeting.  It is a whole different matter to deal with a permanent change.  I don’t know about the coffee urn location nor the price of gasoline; these may be one-day changes (perhaps even errors) or even “let’s try this for a while” changes.  Regardless, the instance of deviation from my “routine” is certainly nothing to worry about, nor even to cause frustration.  Change and error are part of life.
The mass time change this morning, however, was a permanent change.
I’ve been attending 6:30A mass and its adoration afterward for years now.  It’s more than just a start to my day, like a cup of coffee; in many ways it IS my day.  Coffee makes me alert and functioning the same way every day.  The mass and adoration inevitably CHANGES me; each day I am different, better for the growing relationship between God and I (--- and its ever more solidifying arrangement:  God is first).
Whenever permanent change comes to our routines, it is important to ask God: Why?  When I had to retire to take care of my mother, it definitely wasn’t in my plans.  It was a huge change in my life, and I considered many options (I AM an analyst by nature) before settling on the one I chose.  And I did pray over my choice before making it firm.  And even then, I asked God “why” since it seemed that I had other talents which would now be unused to their fullest.  It’s taken me years to accept that this change in my life is a good thing, this doing of His will.  The point I wish to make, however, is that I didn’t just rant against what was happening to me, nor did I calmly accept it.  I looked at alternatives before me, given that the change I didn’t want was happening, regardless of my will.
I think many of us face changes like that in our lives, big ones and BIG ones.  (But sometimes, if we think on it, they’re only big in our minds.)  There are some changes that we can avoid or modify, and some we can’t.  But more often, we need to decide how to react (not react), given that the change is inevitable.  Death?  Divorce?  Pregnancy?  When unplanned things happen, it is not time to rant or raise a fist to God, it is a time to ask “why,” and consider what’s next.  And among possible options for dealing with any change, there must always be then one which says: Do Nothing.  Sometimes the best thing we can do in the face of change is nothing; “Let go and let God” is not a bad phrase to take to heart, sometimes.  Sometimes, in our panic, it’s the only thing we can THINK to do.  And that is not bad.
With almost all change that is good, there will be pain (as I recently wrote in more detail).  Sometimes the pain will only be a change in our routines, sometimes it will be physical pain, and sometimes it will be a pain of the heart.  I’ve always felt that the latter pain hurts the most, because it usually involves love.  Love hurts.  But true love also gives.  Pain accepted in love is called “sacrifice,” a word which is derived from “making sacred.”  Jesus died on the cross in sacrifice.  We participate with Him in the sacrifice of the mass.  Sacrificed pains are for a good thing, a good change.  The change makes us more sacred, holier.
Change will always come about in our life; no life remains unchanging.  How we react to the change is the one thing we can control.
The mass I regularly attended each morning is being changed to only happening a couple days a week.  I can accept this and attend on the days when it is scheduled, I can choose some other church with a more regular schedule, or I can say my morning prayers in the coffee shop.  Or perhaps I can offer to do a communion service on days in which mass is not scheduled.  There are many alternatives to this change in my daily rhythm. I’ll need to get used to a new rhythm --- and accept that, perhaps, there is a good thing coming out of this change.  That is faith, and that is sacrifice.  Not my will but Thy will be done, O Lord.
As far as which of option I’ll pursue regarding mass attendance, I am not sure, but I think God helped me eliminate one of them, as I read the Psalms in my morning prayers, while glancing at the picture of a round loaf of bread on the coffee shop wall:
O God, you are my God, for you I long;
for you my soul is thirsting.
My body pines for you
like a dry, weary land without water.
So I gaze on you in the sanctuary
to see your strength and your glory.
       --- Psalm 63:2
Like the deer that years
for running streams,
so my soul is yearning
for you, my God.
My soul is thirsting for God,
the God of my life;
when can I enter and see
the face of God?
    ---- Psalm 42            


  1. You are so intelligent. You realize therefore considerably on the subject of this matter, made me for my part consider it from a lot of varied angles.Natural remedies to treat depression

  2. Well, I'm not really sure if this is spam or not, so I'll respond.

    First, Niccolo, you do not know me, or you would not praise my intelligence. At best it is weak, and of what it is, it is only a gift. Relative to the "subject of this matter", it was not about depression per se, however, I do recognize that I am not an expert on that subject and would never choose to recommend any solution to that problem borne by so many. To the degree there actually are natural remedies which are successful in treating depression, I say: God is good.