Jesus Asks for Radical

Jesus Asks for Radical

How often do we, like the scribe in today’s Gospel, say to the Lord in prayer: “I will follow you wherever you go”? We may have the best of intentions and mean it with all our heart. But our head—with its logic and practicality and tendency toward fear—wedges itself into the equation and offers a few minor (or major) suggestions and safety nets, just in case. So we hold on to things that ultimately keep us at a distance from God and make it impossible for us to fully follow Jesus where he wants to lead us. We choose reasonable when Jesus asks for radical. We opt for dipping a toe in the spiritual waters when the Gospel calls for total immersion.

Jesus understands that the Way can be challenging, which is how we get to the apparent non sequitur: “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” We might read that line, wonder at its meaning and placement, and simply move on, but it has meaning for us today. If we say that we will follow Jesus wherever he leads, do we understand that it will not be easy, that we too may find ourselves with nowhere to rest our heads?

We don’t get salvation without sacrifice, without embracing the radical—letting the safety nets drop away and trusting that God is the only security measure we need.

Mary DeTurris Poust, “Jesus Asks for Radical,” from the June 2022 issue of Give Us This Day, (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2021). Used with permission.

Where is the beauty in your world?

Where is the beauty in your world?

As I was sipping coffee on the deck this morning, phone in hand, crossword puzzle in front of me, I suddenly stopped and looked up. In that moment, I realized everything else could wait, and I just sat and appreciated what was in front of me. I said (out loud), “My beautiful world.” And immediately my mind wanted to run through all the things that are not so beautiful in my world and in our larger world. Again, I stopped myself and focused on what IS beautiful in my world at this moment. Not what might not be beautiful later or tomorrow, or what is not beautiful beyond the boundaries of my little world, but what is beautiful right here, right now.

Stop. Look up. Find something beautiful in your world, your day in this moment and just soak it all in. Appreciate the good, glorious, mystical, magical world around you. Listen for a bird call. Watch a spider spin a web. Stand barefoot in the grass, no matter how small the patch might be. Just BE for a minute or two. Do nothing but breathe. Be still and be grateful for the blessings. The problems will always be there, but the blessings are also always pulsing around all the edges of our life and sometimes right smack in the middle of it. Take time to notice today.

A trade-off worth making

A trade-off worth making

When I left my office job four months ago to return to my home-based writing and retreat business, I was mainly focused on doing the work I love most on a full-time basis and expanding my ability to help people walk the spiritual path. And to be certain, I wake up every day giving thanks that I am able to do what I do, feeling a sense of joy and contentment in my heart.

But there’s been a side benefit that has proven to be even more joy-inspiring than the work aspect of home office life: time with my teenage daughter. I knew when I quit my job to change career paths that I’d have a little more time with Chiara, who has only one more year at home before she heads off to college, but I underestimated the impact of those afternoon hours together that I’d been missing for the past six years.

When I decided to go back to work in an office full time in 2015, I figured I’d gotten my three children through the most important parts. Chiara, our youngest, was in fifth grade and had an amazing neighbor to care for her in the afternoons. Eventually, Olivia was old enough to watch her after school. The tough part was done, right? We imagine our pre-teens and teens are fairly self-sufficient and that they prefer time alone to time with parents. But what I’m finding is that I’m not the only one basking in our mother-daughter time; Chiara and I spend many afternoons side by side, whether we are running errands or quietly doing work on our computers, separate-but-together.

As I wait in the car line outside the high school each day, I am grateful for the opportunity to be there to pick her up and hear about the happenings of her day. It’s an added bonus when a friend needs a ride home, giving me the chance to get to know some children who were faceless names up until now. Every day when I arrive at school, I text: “I’m here in my usual spot.” One day the text came back: “See you soon. Bestie 4 L,” which translates in grown-up talk as “best friend for life.” Be still my heart.

At home, as I work in my upstairs office, Chiara often plops herself down on the meditation cushion behind my desk chair — usually with our black cat, Fred, in tow — and hangs out there, both of us doing our thing and stopping to chat now and then. She has no idea how happy it makes me, but I feel joy bubbling up inside, and I say a silent, “thank you,” for the gift of this time together that I really never saw coming.

It has made me aware of the many other things I’d been missing when I was moving at the warp speed of a stressful job that occupied my mind 24/7, which is no exaggeration despite the overused cliché. So many daily joys were buried under never-ending work emails and texts. So many fleeting opportunities had passed me by while I was convincing myself that a job should be more important than the everyday miracles occurring all around me, often unseen because my eyes were glued to a computer or phone.

Don’t get me wrong. My decision to work for myself was a huge sacrifice for my family and one that I know many people cannot make because of the financial implications, so I am blessed. And although my choice certainly comes with daily challenges as I try to rebuild a business, the trade-off — less money and “prestige” for more joy and contentment — is one I would make again in a heartbeat.

What treasure is hidden in plain sight in your life? Stop for a moment today and bask in the simple things that fill your heart with joy. Step away from the computer, put down the phone, lift your gaze, and take it all in.

This column originally appeared in the June 2, 2022, issue of The Evangelist.

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