“Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure.” – St. John Paul II
It looks like the snow is going to fly for the first time this fall/winter and the changing of the seasons makes me introspective and contemplative. Our lives, like the weather, are ever changing and yet, always the same. Our kids finish one grade and enjoy the summer. Our kids go back to school – one year smarter. We clutter up the garage. We clean out the garage. We plant the potatoes. We harvest the potatoes. I’ve lived through almost 40 winters now (what??) and tend to take the changing seasons as an opportunity to look back on last year, on five years ago, on ten years ago, and assess the way I’ve changed, the places I’ve grown and the places I’ve maybe regressed. I pray over my life and ask God if where I am right now is where he wants me to be. And if it isn’t, I discern where is it he does want me to be, and how I might get there.
Last winter my husband and I made a 7-day, silent, Ignatian retreat. Amongst other things, I learned during those 7 days that the choices we have made in our lives, whether they were good choices or not, can be very beneficial to us, in hindsight. If we are willing to look at them honestly and dispassionately, by ourselves or with a spiritual director of some kind, we can learn quite a bit about ourselves: our difficulties, our virtues and vices, and perhaps where God is waiting to show his power to us in a new and radical way. It’s a sort of examination of conscience, if you will, on a larger scale.
But we have to do the work – the painful, scary, arduous work. We have to take the time to look back to assess and appraise – taking the good with the bad and the ugly – gathering it all up and giving it, once again, to God, who can remake the bad and the ugly into something truly wonderful.
To get you started, while you’re journeying through the changing sameness, a list for your pondering:
Where was I last year at this time? Five years ago? Ten years ago?
Am I happy with where I am right now? Is this where God wants me? If not, what can I change? How?
What place does God occupy in my life? Do I frequent the sacraments? Adoration? How can I let God into my life in a deeper, more real or profound way?
What are the 3 mistakes I made this past year that most affected my life?
How did they come about? How did I deal with them? What can I learn from them?
What 3 virtues have I been improving upon? How can I continue improving?
What are the positive influences in my life? How can I encourage them?
What are the negative influences in my life? How can I minimize them?
For what am I striving? Is it appropriate?
What are my earthly goals? Are they good, true and/or beautiful? Consistent with my vocation in life?
Finally, is heaven my ultimate goal? If so, how does my life reflect that?
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