On Sunday morning in Spokane I attended mass at St. Aloysius church largely because I wanted to hear the President of GU, Father Robert Spitzer, deliver the sermon. His powerful address to the parents of freshmen in August 2006 convinced even the most reluctant among us that a GU education would serve our children well. I remember being inspired and excited for my daughter. While GU impressed me from the first campus tour two years ago, the more time I spend on site the more I feel the Jesuit call to academic excellence and the importance of the big (and small) questions. Ask, learn and ask again.
Listening to Father Spitzer speak from the pulpit in a different context was equally inspiring. He focused on the obstacles of everyday living, the small and the life changing, the annoying and the tragic. How do we reconcile life's difficult blows with the notion that God listens to prayer and provides? Why does positive change come so slowly at times? How do we prosper in the midst of pain, uncertainty, and loss? Just as he delivered his address to parents last year, he fashioned his response as a series of points; "One, two, and three..." and developed those points with personal stories from his own life.
Stop the cycle of whining and complaining long enough to listen. It is only when our minds are quiet that we can truly listen and receive divine inspiration. Look for opportunities; with eyes open, we will see what is there already and what can be created from the raw materials at hand. Cultivate gratitude.
And finally, pray. Dr. Spitzer spoke of two prayers that have helped him through troubled times. One, "I surrender, God. I give up and turn over this tangled mess to you to fix" and secondly, "Thy will be done". We are not in control, never have been and never will be but through us the Divine will work miracles large and small in our lives.
I was struck by the simplicity and the familiarity of his words. How sensible. How obvious. I've heard the same concept spoken by Buddhist teachers of insight meditation, from yogis and from the popular, contemporary press providing advice on harmonious living. At the core, aren't we talking about the same things? The commonalities are larger than the differences.
I found a few photographs taken this weekend in Spokane that speak to me on each of these issues; stop to listen, look with passion and gratitude for the opportunities and surrender to a higher power through prayer.
Shortly after listening to his sermon I learned that Mom had taken a serious fall in her apartment and suffered a fractured hip. I felt like this patch of once lovely greenery, turned inward in surrender. I realized that I can do nothing more than breathe through the moments with grace and humility for all the gifts that are present now, at this moment. I must stop the inner chatter and resistance. Stop; open my eyes and ears for the opportunities to heal others and in turn be healed.
**Balasana: Sanskrit term for "Child's Pose" in Yoga