Enjoying The Crumbs  – 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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The summer is racing by very quickly. We are well into back-to-school sales, reminders about course registration, and memos about the first meetings of various committees. I’m sure that we all have our unique reactions to these things. Some thoroughly enjoy the regularity of the year starting up again.

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My reaction is something along the lines of being rudely awakened, being surprised by how many things I still need or want to do before the summer comes to an end. My list of summer projects seems longer than it was several months ago.

I’m also recognizing that my list includes several items related to the recovery from surgery for a brain tumour. I recognize the big things: I’m alive. I don’t have any cancer. I came through the surgery intact.

But I can tend to focus much more on what I cannot do. Perhaps the remaining weeks of August can be devoted to growing in gratitude rather than regret. What are the things I’m able to do that others with brain issues cannot do?

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I am reminded of this every single day here at our Jesuit community here in Pickering. There is a Jesuit who had a brain tumour and he simply cannot do most things. He is very dependent upon the help of others. Fr. John is a very holy man. He quite possibly sees this dependence on others as a means of being more dependent upon God. I’m nowhere near that level of freedom and reliance on God.

How do you need to grow in gratitude for the summer? What new experiences have you had in the past few months? What graces do you need to experience before Labour Day weekend’s abrupt conclusion to the summer?

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Are there projects in your home or cottage? Did you attend to your body’s needs in the ways you promised yourself? Are there promises you made to yourself or your family and friends?

We still have time before Labour Day. A great deal of my personal energy must go into working on being more stable in my walking and to deepen my gratitude for the fact that I am alive. Or, to pray for the grace of dependence on God that I witness in Fr. John and so many people in our world.

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The Gospel offers us the image of the crumbs that fall from the table. When I was home for a visit earlier this summer, my mother reminded me of a habit from my grandmother. My siblings and I would have toast made from her homemade bread. We would often leave behind the crusts from the side of the slice and, certainly, a load of crumbs.

My grandmother would remind us of hungry people around the world and she would eat the crusts and the crumbs. My mother did the same thing when I had breakfast in my recent visit with her. Not a crust or crumb was wasted.

It occurs to me now that there is a link with God’s grace. Our experience of God’s grace is not always overwhelming. It often comes to us in scraps and crumbs, rather than neat and tidy slices. As a matter of fact, most of God’s gifts to us come from being attentive to the flow of God’s presence throughout the day.

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I’m sure that most of us are aware of the practice from Ignatius and others of the Examen of Consciousness. Most of the elements that we bring to our prayer in an examen are scraps and crumbs from the day.

The Psalm for the twentieth Sunday reminds us that God has blessed us, and pleads for God’s continued blessings. “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us.” And, “Let all the ends of the earth revere him.” Let’s grow in our awareness of this before the end of summer.

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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