We are truly brilliant at focusing on things that aren't there:
"My life is not this..."
"My partner is not that..."
"My children aren't..."
"My job isn't..."
"My parents never..."
"My figure is not..."
And we lament and wish and hope and dream...
Meantime, that old clock keeps on ticking. Can you hear it?
When I was in my twenties and exploring the contemplative life, I spent a lot of time at a convent built in a poor neighborhood outside of Boston. One year my parents had recently been to visit me at Yale, and the age-old conflict between my father and me had once again exploded in our faces.
I went to see Sister Michael. She had entered the Order late in life after her husband died and I adored her. Sensible, calm, quiet, with a sound grasp of how tricky life can be.
I ranted at her for forty-five minutes: "My father doesn't..." "Why won't he..." "Why can't he..." "He constantly..." "He never..."
I felt I had presented a really compelling argument. Sister Michael listened and then she paused. When she spoke, it was not what I expected: "Josie. Whatever God has for you in your father, receive."
I was speechless. That was it? I was ready with a riposte when suddenly I realised it was like one of those toys where you press your hand in and all the pins show up on the other side. I had been looking at it in the wrong way.
Of course my father was broken. Who isn't? God wasn't asking me to see what wasn't, He was asking me to focus on what was.
My father could be kind, and funny, and wise. In spite of all those other things.
And so I have strived to live my life that way ever since. I have looked not at what isn't, but at what is. "OK, my life is not this. But it is this."
I am a single mother in sole charge of my two teenage children across the globe from our community where they grew up. I am without a partner. I am without other means.
BUT. This is my life. One shot.
When my children go to spend Christmas this year with their father in California, I have an opportunity. I am not a victim. I could go to my incredible group of friends here and spend time with them. Or, what else could I do? I'm single, I'll be dependent-free, I'm solvent.
So I am GOING TO AUSTRALIA! When else am I going to go? My maternal grandparents were Australian and I have always wanted to go. Am I assuming as a matter of course that I shall live to be 90? Listen, Josie, what an extraordinary experience to be free! Go grab it!
And Christmas is SUMMER!
I can go!
I am free!
I am going!
So, this is my challenge to you. What is it that you can do because of your circumstances? What are your treasures of darkness?
You will find them when you look for them.
I booked my ticket today, and then I danced around the kitchen screaming and crying. God is so pleased with me! This is my time. My opportunity. My life!
I am living my best life, the life I have.
Go get yours, won't you?