More Spiritual Reflections

Spiritual Reflections


IHM Forward Gathering

Sr. Mindy Welding, IHM
March 28, 2009

Reflection by Sister Mindy Welding, IHM
March 28, 2009
IHM Forward Gathering

I will write it on their hearts and I will be their God and they will be my people. I will forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more.

Those who love their lives above all else will ultimately lose them, but those who lose their lives in this world will keep them for eternal life. Those who serve me must follow me and where I am there shall my servants be...

The line that grabbed me is what Jesus says next, "Now is my soul troubled..."

No wonder! For who really wants to 'lose their life"?

I met a man the other day that troubled my soul. I had dinner with him this past Wednesday evening. I had heard of him and I have read a few things he has said and done. He was interested in me, in all of us gathered there for dinner, apostles and disciples of Chestnut Hill College, a Jesuit, an IHM, a few SSJ's and several lay women and men. Then we began to ask questions of him. And I listened to his stories, his beliefs. He stayed with us for twenty four hours. This man disturbed me and troubled me because I could not do what he does. He is so misunderstood for his convictions and beliefs in God and the way of the Gospel. He is constantly watched, under surveillance, cannot do a simple task without being questioned, his phone is tapped, he is followed, he has been mocked, beaten down, silenced, thrown out, his own community has tried to get rid of him 7 times, he's been jailed more than 75 times, he's been betrayed and broken by Church, government, state, community. And yet, in his

silent, non-violent way he carries on. He is on fire with the faith and belief that God loves him intimately, intensely and wonderfully. Through this faith he continues to do what he does in faith, praying the Beatitudes several times a day, reading and living the Gospel daily, in his heart he has hope. He will not despair, will not give up. On Good Friday next week he will once again lay down his life and kneel in silent protest in Nevada where nuclear weapons are the livelihood – where Judas will once more betray him out of intense fear, where there will be disciples who stay and pray yet others will run or fall asleep. And, the officials will come with their weapons and arrest this man who is considered one of the top terrorists by the United States.

This man troubled my heart because my faith is not as strong. He truly embodies this Jesus of the Gospels, this non-violent, crucified, Suffering Servant – John Dear, SJ challenges me to a life I have not yet fully lived as Jesus also challenges me to live a non-violent Gospel life I have not yet fully lived.

The readings today call us to lose our life in order to save it. And yet, the readings are full of hope. We come to the last two weeks of Lent. The Passion is ahead of us filled with misunderstanding, ridicule, intense watching in order to catch Jesus 'slip up', there's abuse, questioning, jailing, torture, betrayal, loss of friends and family, abandonment, painful journeys and excruciating pain and death. And yet, we are asked to have HOPE!

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a
battle that goes on inside people.
He said, "My son, the battle is between two
"wolves" inside us all.

One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret,
greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false
pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility,

kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather:
"Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

How am I to have hope when the world is in a mess and full of violence,

When companies that are supposed to help us and be financially sound cheats us,

When my neighbors in Coatsville suffer in fear every night because someone is setting their homes on fire? When my family suffers from physical pain and financial woe? When I feel helpless in the midst of student apathy and sad in my own failure to be the best I can be? Our Congregation, our President, our prophets and our Gospel calls us to HOPE!

I've been praying with another man in my life....this man is gentle, full of compassion, his body is broken and paralyzed and he gives hope to so many in his practice of counseling and his radio shows on WHYY, the public radio station in Philly. His name is Dan Gottlieb. Dan writes in an article in spirituality and Health that we can have open hearts or closed hearts. It's like the two wolves.....a closed heart is filled with those petty things that we struggle with and obsess over that cause us to be blinded to the light with anxiety, ruminations, thoughts and preoccupations and all those ego based activities. It's when I start to think, it's all about me.

OR, we can have an open, dilated heart filled with peace and love and just being present to one's self, to others and being fully present to the larger world.

In his article, Dan asks everybody to simply notice when your heart's open or closed. Just notice. When your heart's open, you're capable of love and compassion for the world, for yourself. When your heart is closed, at a certain level, you are suffering. You will see yourself saying and doing things that are harmful and you and I am suffering. If you see your dear neighbor suffering or their heart is hurt and closed, they need space, compassion, and understanding. If my heart is closed what I need to do is just feel my heart, to give myself compassion, understanding and space and put my hands on my heart and breathe in God's love, compassion, understanding and space. And just stay there.

That is what the readings call us to today – to listen to the prophets like John Dear, Dan Gottlieb and Jesus. I will give you a new heart – I will be your God and you will be my people. Follow me; lay down your life in order to truly live life. Lose your life in order to live in God forever. Choose your wolf. Choose an open heart. Live in hope.