“Go from your country”: The Second Sunday of Lent

"Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you." Go peacefully and gracefully into the unknown. Our Lenten journey takes us another step or two along the path. That path is marked by unknowns, not all offering a welcome. There are blessings and curses. As we saw on the First Sunday, everything can speak to us, even a desert and a stone.Source: fwcbirdseyeview.com

Like Lent, my medical journey travels at its own speed, with every little thing speaking to me. I'm still waiting to be shown the right medical diagnosis. I wait. Patiently, I hope. Suffice to say that I'm becoming one of those people whose body slowly deteriorates while the brain and spirit functions in a more or less "normal" manner. I think I'd prefer that to watching my mind waste away. Do we have a choice? Some people have it both ways, either for good or for ill.

I'm awaiting a brain scan to verify what is happening to my brain and its effects on my body. For lack of a detailed description, my motor functions are off. That effects mobility and cognitive functions. I'm relying on a walker and major editing corrections as I type on my iPad. If only you knew how many times I have pressed the wrong key! 

I should have realized that this would be an issue. For years, the ideas flowed much more quickly than I could type them. Now both the ideas and the words require an effort. Think of the Sloth, the Zootopia character who lives in slow motion. That's what my life has become. The issue seems to be neurological, but that remains my hunch until the brain scan verifies things. 

Source: ammaruns.wordpress.comSlowness has always been an issue! I do know that I am slow to listen. After my brain tumour in the early part of the century, I swore that my life was now about being not doing. Nice try! Did I really believe that I was changed forever? I'm afraid that I gradually slipped back to my usual way of proceeding. I could accuse myself of taking on far too much. It would be easy to blame others for asking me to do something. Surely they would not do that if they thought I was taking on too much!

What possessed me to think that others would take responsibility for my personal formation? Such blame is not so easy. How much is related to the image that we project? Did I say yes to do too much? Should I have eaten breakfast each day? Should I have sworn off caffeine and alcohol? Should I have had eight hours sleep each night? A much more pertinent question is: Should I have been more committed to friends and vacationing and time off? We make our own mistakes and have to live with the consequences. Source: stevelube.com

What is certain is that, if I am honest and reflective about what is happening and how I deal with it, this is "good for the spiritual life," as my old Novitiate classmate Martin used to say. A related question is how helpful this is for dealing with others in spiritual direction and counselling.

I do know that in listening to and being with others, nothing in our experience is ever wasted. And, in that vein, there is a new wisdom that I can take with me into the remaining years of my life. Will I learn this time? Or will it require another major health crisis? Are the affects of human transfiguration experiences once and for all? How often do we require conversion? 

The Gospel tells us that Jesus came and touched the disciples and said, "Get up and do not be afraid." He is reminding us to not give in to fear, but to forge ahead, down the mountain. Lent continues! 

Philip Shano, SJ has many years of rich and varied experience working with Ignatian spirituality: teaching, writing and using it in his ministry. He resides in the Jesuit community in Pickering, Ontario.

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