Wednesday, November 11, 2009


The ship that will not obey the helm will have to obey the rocks.
English proverb

This is a two-sided pillow that I have at the center of my bed, which reminds me of the choice I have every morning. It may mean something else to my husband, but I think after 45 years together, he knows better. I am just communicating my feminine moods.  In the morning I may say a cheery YES to life, but by late afternoon, the pillow has turned over to show my ragged underside, my NO. It reminds me also that Mary, inspite of moods, said YES at the tender age of fifteen, once and for all, all of us. How did she do that?  Why did she do that?  I am not one of those people who can know the right thing to do, and just go ahead it.  I have to deny, and stew, and have things my way for ..a time. Are those people given a different script or are  they just more obedience. 

A couple of posts ago, I wrote about the H in HOST, the h for humility.  Humility leads to the O, for obedience - such an ugly word.  It has always conjured images of inaction, dryness, sterility, oppression, just goin nowhere.  It just sounds so..uncreative.  I am rebellious by nature, the last thing I want to hear about is obedience.  It justs sounds dumb, childish, and medieval.  I did not know how to write about this word in an kind of an appealing way.

 At Mass today, I saw it differently, and had been waiting for this small revelation so I could share the deeper meaning of this word, this reality, with you. Here is what today's homily inspired about obedience.

Every time we choose other than God, we drift away, we "sin."  Everytime we sin, we leak from our vessels some life-sustaining oil, a little droplet of His life leaves us. We actually feel emptier, the more we sin, the emptier we get.  After a while we may not feel the emptying because we are mostly empty. Empty becomes the new normal. Then we need fillers. Our culture affords us  a full smorgasbord of tasty, shiny, tempting fillers.  All at some our wallets, physical, psychological, and spiritual. We feel fuller for a while, but actually become even emptier, closer to..nothing.

Thank God, we are offered the only meal that fills us, one that is not on that all-you-can-eat buffet table. This meal serves up the second letter of its acronym, O in HOST. The O word can turn things around for any empty any time. Thinking of the vital O, as obedience, as  good food, life-giving, spiritually delicious and nutritious!   We need to eat the O often so we can keep ourselves whole and satisfied. It will give us the strength and energy we need to feel good enough to climb the mountain of life and start to enjoy the view. The view is not the one we thought or the one the world offers, the one Lucifer offered to Jesus in the desert. The view is from a much higher place than he, than we, could ever imagine and it is all ours  for the asking.  Obedience is the asking; it is an walking forward, one mini step at a time. Very hard,  but  one thing makes it easier.  Practice.

On the upside, every time we make a act, even mentally, of obedience - love of God- we are being filled. When we freely choose the good,  we are fuller of life. We are fuller of God. Even if we cannot feel it right away, we still know it by faith. With obedience, we usually do feel it because God usually gives us positive reinforcement soon after, so we keep on the path. We follow crumbs at first, but amazingly energizing crumbs..and much tastier that they look, all raggedy and on the ground. Crumb by crumb, we are nourished and transformed.  We start to feel healthier. We become healthier, we become filled..with the Spirit.

Eat the O bar every day. The O feeds the soul what it needs, one bite at a time.

Reality Check:

We may say we don't know what He wants, to be obedient about what?  Well, for me, all I have to do is admit what I am trying so hard to resist that I know is the better choice for me - diet, exercise, speaking the truth in love, watching my resentful tone, (reflecting a resentful heart), speaking too soon, giving in to anxiety, and so on and on.

We all have our stuff.  I have told myself some of mine. What's yours?

Mary, help us to say yes