Friday, November 14, 2008

Decisions - Part 1

You Are Mine - David Haas

I recently returned from a trip to Mexico.
And I do have a lot to write about that trip.
I have photos and video of the trip. . .
. . the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. .
. . Mexico City’s Metropolitan Cathedral.. .
. . The Museum of the Templo Mayor. ..
. . .Cathedral of Our Lady of San Juan de Los Lagos. . .
. . .The Shrine Church of St. Toribio Romo. . .The Pyramids. . .
. . .The Giants of Tula. . .. . Museum of Anthrolopogy. . .
. . .Yes. . . I have thoughts on all of the above
and more.
And that will be forthcoming.

But I think I need to write about something else right now.
I need to write about
And Discernment.
And this writing will be
at least two entries in this blog.
This first one,
on the process itself.
The second blog entry
will detail some of the thoughts and insights
that led up to the decision itself.

And I probably should have written on this subject
before I left for Mexico.
As it is,
waiting to write on this subject
has only served to give me
affirmation and confirmation
that the decisions made
via a discernment process
were, in fact, guided by the Holy Spirit.

Decisions are funny things.
Some people get upset
Because of the decisions of another.
There is a part of me that can understand that.
But then, there is a part of me that doesn’t.
I mean,
No one can decide something for you,
especially if it’s something of importance.
People have every right
not to like the decision of another.
But we cannot decide for another.
And if we try to change someone’s mind
about a decision they made,
well, depending on what the circumstances are,
that could be downright immoral.
I mean,
we could try and change someone’s mind about something.
But we may not have all of the information they have,
all of the memories they have.
And this all contributes to the decision making process.

As someone who has spent her entire adult life
(and a great chunk of my youth)
In some sort of ministry or another,
I know all too well that important decisions are made
After a period of reflection, prayer and meditation.
Important decisions are made after a period of discernment.

You know,
some people throw that word around,
because it’s good ecclesial vocabulary.
But many don’t have a clue
As to what it really means.
What a pity.

These are not decisions
based on dollar signs.
These are not decisions
based on popularity contests.

Some decisions don’t require much thought at all.
For example,
deciding what to make for dinner.
I don’t need to think to long and hard about that
unless I’m trying to do something silly
like impress some dinner guests.

Other decisions,
well, some other decisions really require intense prayer.

We can’t just weigh the pros and cons
of a particular situation
and make our decisions based on that.
Doing so will make sure that the “pros” always wins,
which, in turn,
may mean taking the easy way out.
And as anyone involved in ministry knows,
the easy way is not always God’s way.

Discernment certainly is not based
on what would be the easiest thing for me to do,
or the easiest thing for those around me.
If it were,
the task wouldn’t be so hard,
so time consuming.

For the fact is,
if the path were easy
more people would be on it

And we can think a lot about how things may turn out.
“If I do A, then B or C might happen.
If I do X, then Y or Z might happen.”

This is thinking logically.
However, when making important decisions,
we need to remember
that not everyone in the world thinks, acts or reacts logically.
Discernment is not always logical. . .
well.. .logical as the world would see it.
And when people learn of the decision made,
well, they might not act or react logically either. . .

And so,
we must be ready to accept the consequences of decisions made
knowing that what may happen
may end up being something we never would have imagined.
And that, really, is a very good thing.
However, if you aren’t ready and open to accept the consequences
you aren’t ready to make the decision.

You must be open.
You must be ready.
If you walk into a decision
fearful of what the turnout might be,
You aren’t open.
And I think here is where we have some people
who get upset at the decisions made by others.
It may be that they aren’t open to the gift
that may just show up
On their doorstep.
Sometimes there are many gifts that lay dormant,
waiting for just the right change to occur
to blossom and become.
But some. . . .
. . .well, rather than being up for the challenge
are fearful or angry about the change.

The thing is,
change does happen.
Case in point: Parish Clustering.
Rather than be angry,
frustrated or fearful of the changes that clustering brings,
We need to look toward
what new gifts may land on our doorstep
when we cluster with another parish.
I've done anger.
And believe me,
this is much better.

Sometimes, in order to receive the gift,
you simply must be open to receiving it.
If you were truly open,
many a good thing would come to you.
Because you spent time meditating about it.
Because you spent quite some time in prayer about it.
You’ll make the decision
not really sure of what will come,
but ready for blessings,
Ready for good things,
including some challenges.

And challenges are gifts in disguise.
A crisis is really a turning point.
Where or what we turn toward
is really up to us.
Let’s face it.
In the challenge, in the crisis, we grow and become.
In my life,
I have found challenges
to be a part of the “selving” process.
When we cease “selving” we cease to grow.
I, myself, am someone
who needs that constant agitation.
I don’t function well
in a cozy, predictable setting.
It is the very struggle that gives life.
At least, it is as such for me.

there is also responsibility and expectation.
If I make this decision,
am I not holding up my responsibility?
Have I let down people who depend on me,
who expect something of me?

On the other hand,
Have the expectations I had been honored?
Have I been respected and honored?
And ever more important,
have I been able to accomplish
the goals and expectations
in this particular situation
that I have set for myself?
Why or why not?

And in the end,
I must ask myself,
“Where will I serve the greater good?”

particularly to the clustering reality,
I can be reactive or proactive.
I choose the latter.
But I certainly didn’t chose it
without some extensive time in prayer.

And let me also say
that I’ve learned some new things
about the clustering process
that I did not know when I was praying, discerning.
And I must say,
this new bit of information
only serves to affirm the decisions I made
after intense prayer.

Many people do pray when making an important decision.
But I have known a few who don’t really
complete the circle of prayer.
Oh, they voice their concerns to the Merciful One.
They may seek the wisdom of Our Lady.
They cry out to Jesus.
But they fail to listen,
to be still and listen.
God is speaking in the quiet.

Oh, some read The Word.
And we hear and listen The Word in Church.
But until we just stop talking
We won’t hear the Word
as it is meant to heard for our lives.
It is in the quiet
that The Word is Heard.

Most who know me well
know that I begin my day at 4:30a.m.
In the quiet,
before the rest of the house
And the rest of the world wakes up.
Just to be in the quiet.
Oh, I can try to create the quiet during the day,
turning off the TV, the PC, the radio, the phone. . .
But there is always outside noise.
The best silence
is not the silence I try to create,
but the quiet that flows naturally.
My world just seems to be at it’s natural quietest at 4:30a.m. . . .
So I seek it, the quiet, with earnest.
I get up early just to be in the quiet.
And when I have something that requires special prayer. .
. . .well, I find myself awaking even earlier.

And let me also say
that there is a difference
between just being quiet
and really experiencing the quiet.

In the quiet. . .
that’s where important decisions are made.

In the quiet. . .
this is where God speaks.
At least,
this is where I find God speaks to me the most.

I am not listening to the quiet
if I am listening to all of those voices
telling me what to do.
Oh, maybe there is some message of importance
that they bring to me.
But it’s hard to listen
when all the voices come at me at once.
It really is hard, my friends.
It’s in the quiet
That I get the message.

And I am not listening to the quiet
if I am busy reacting
to the decisions other people have made.
I am not listening to the quiet
if I am reacting to how people react
to my decisions.
Reacting is not listening.

Listening to the quiet
means that I must stop talking.
Plain and simple.
Just Stop talking.
I know.
I learned this the had way.

I hope you enjoyed the song.
I love the first line of the song. . .
"I will come to you in your silence. . ."
Ain't that the truth?

Gracias, Diosito Misericordioso.
Thank you for the quiet.
May others come to know You
In the precious gift of silence.