The other night friends and I were enjoying dinner and lively conversation. The topic turned to sharing stories about the childhood antics of our children who are now all young adults. There was a healthy dose of nostalgia at the table as we recounted stories from their toddler and grade school years. It was such a joy to share those memories while appreciating the fine people our children are today.
On this first Monday of Lent both readings focus on the rules God calls us to live by. While these rules are easy to agree with it, it can be a challenge to live each of them out every moment of every day. My daily Examen prayer gives me insights to when I live as God has called me to live and when I have failed. Looking at missed opportunities or times I was neglectful or retributive can leave me overwhelmed and unsure of what to do to live the life God asks of us.
As I pray with today’s readings I am thinking back to my children’s preschool days about which my friends and I had been reminiscing. When my daughters were in preschool they were taught a program called HALO, Healthy Alternatives for Little Ones. All of the lessons focused on people making healthy choices rather than harmful choices. Wearing a helmet when riding a bike is a healthy choice. Smoking a cigarette is a harmful choice. That model helped them, and our family for that matter, view behavior with compassion and always strive to make the better choice.
Today’s Psalm helps give me encouragement to revisit what God is asking of me:
The Law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul
The decree of the Lord is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple
The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart
The command of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eye
Rather than worry if I am going to be judged as a goat or a sheep, I can pray for the wisdom and insight the Psalm assures me is there in the Law the Lord. When I open my heart and realize I am a loved sinner I can much more easily live as God is asking me to live. Engaging from a place of compassion for myself and others sets a foundation for loving my neighbor as myself. Richard Rohr in Falling Upward has helped me appreciate how my failings are helping me grow in my “second half” of my life.
This Lent I will dig deeper with my Examen prayer to appreciate the bright spots and to search for what I can learn from my sin. Now that seems like a healthy choice.
Mary Lee Brock joined the faculty of Creighton University’s Werner Institute as Clinical Program Chair in 2009. For the ten years before coming to Creighton she was the founding executive director of Concord Center, a non-profit mediation and facilitation center serving the Omaha area.
The Midwest has always been home for her. After living in St. Louis and Minneapolis she moved back to Omaha about 20 years ago. Becoming an active member of St John’s parish was one of the first things she did when she got to town and her life has been so much richer for it;she is grateful for the friends and the faith developed at St John’s. She’s also blessed with loving family and loyal friends and the occasional rough patch to keep it real. Membership in two book clubs and long walks on the Field Club trail add to enjoyment in life.