By Corey Grace
“I do not like this here or there. I do not like this anywhere.”
These words written by the infamous, poetic, and distinguished author… Dr. Suess (This should give you a clue about the books I’ve been reading lately — thank-you homeschooling! ) have been on constant repeat in my mind for the past few days. Of course, it is easy to apply these words to our current stay-at-home order. When considering that, there are several things that, “I do not like” about our situation.
- “I do not like” that our neighborhood which bursts at the seams with children is suddenly so quiet.
- “I do not like” having to wait 30 minutes in line to get IN to the store.
- “I do not like” keeping my distance from people. I’m a hugger and physical touch is my main love language.
- “I do not like” that — no, my heart breaks that — we can no longer come together as a community to worship God in our church. My soul feels crushed that the Eucharist, the source and summit of our faith, is not available for us to receive right now.
All of these things, “I do not like”. Even though this litany of dislikes is long and heavy, mostly I see our current situation as a gift.
- The gift of time.
- The gift of together.
- The gift of still.
- The gift of quiet.
- The gift of refocusing on what’s most important.
My list of gifts could go on and on. yet, my heart keeps coming back to, “I do not like this.”
What my heart is referring to are the words I hear God saying to me through the daily readings and prayer. As we come closer and closer to the end of Lent and the beginning of Jesus’ Passion, the readings are focusing on the Pharisees and their plot to kill Jesus. As I read these words everyday and have MUCH more time for reflection and listening, what God is revealing to me causes me to say, “I do not like this”.
I’m realizing I’m more like the Pharisee who boasts of her own self-righteousness than the tax collector who sees God’s greatness (Luke 18:9-14). I’m more like the Scribes waiting to throw stones of pride and judgement than the woman who begs for mercy and is freed from her slavery to sin (John 8:1-11). I’m more like the Church leaders who fail to see the gift and miracle of healing and only focus on “the law” than the man who receives a miraculous healing (Mark 3:1-6). By my own hardness of heart, I’m more like the Jews who picked up rocks, ready and aimed at Jesus than those who saw his works and believed (John 10:31-42).
No, “I do not like this here or there. I do not like this anywhere.” Despite my dislike, it IS what I’m hearing. It IS my work. Though I feel disdain, it seems I have some choices to make. I can stop listening. Stop reading. Stop being still and just stay put where I am at on my faith journey.
Or, I can distract myself with noise. Fill the silence. Drown out the words I don’t want to hear.
Or, I can roll up my sleeves and start doing the hard and painful work of growing in my faith in this time of gift. I can let Jesus prune me (John 15). Funny enough, the parable of The True Vine was his last one to his disciples. He shared it with them right before he knew he was about to die. I know it’s no coincidence that I come to this realization as we approach Holy Week and the Triduum.
Through His great love and mercy, God leaves the choice to me. Since I’ve already tried two out of the three (I will let you guess which two those are!), I will choose to embrace option three.
Perhaps you also find yourself struggling with the silence and stillness. Maybe God is whispering words you don’t like for your own pruning to come closer to Him. Maybe you too have a list of dislikes or fears about our current situation. Perhaps the weight of the pressure of homeschooling and work and finances and home are too much to bear. Go to Him. Live Psalm 18:7, “In my distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice.” No matter how different we’re all feeling, God gives us all the same three options. We get to choose. Spend some time today deciding with your Father which path you’ll go on and what that looks like for your own growing.
Then hopefully, when this unbelievable reality of our current situation comes to an end, we will all find ourselves like the main character in Dr. Suess’ classic book, Green Eggs and Ham. We too will be glorifying and shouting praises of, I do so like this here and there. I do so like this everywhere. Thank you. Thank-you, God, the Great I AM!
Likely, it is easy for all of us to come up with an “I do not like” list. What is on your gift list?