Monday, January 13, 2014

Explore New Labels

Dear Friends,

I have been thinking, with some measure of irritation, about labels and glue. I mean the labels companies put on various products before they get to store shelves. Some people use these products without taking off the labels. In the attic, I recently found labels on package of Christmas accessories that are at least twenty years old. People also leave them on waste baskets, laundry baskets, cups, bottles. On and on. And then there’s the other side of the reality. The glue is often such that the labels don’t easily come off, especially when they labels have aged. Some need to soak in water, some require hefty doses of goo-gone.

What has any of this to do with living lives of faith? What labels do we wear, labels we haven’t taken off in years? What ideas, practices, beliefs, habits are glued to our everyday lives? And do we even know they are still in our personal world? What do we purchase, keep, hoard (maybe) or at least accumulate without testing its value against the call of Christ to study our own hearts and discern what is really of God? I was recently standing with a cousin who opened a closet door in his home to get something. Along the whole back wall, ceiling to floor, were stacks of audio tapes. Hundreds of them.  What internal glue keeps him hanging on to these things? Is his label ”collector?” Is it a label he treasures?

In a recent homily, Pope Francis encouraged his listeners with these words: “Let us prevent our hearts from becoming marketplaces. … vigilance is necessary,” he said. “The Christian is the man or woman who knows how to keep watch over his or her own heart. And many times, our heart with so many things that come and go, seem a local market:  everything ,  you can find everything there.. No!   We need to test things… this is from the Lord and this is not.”

So now that the cold of January is upon us, and the distractions of the Christmas season are past, let’s cast a look around our closets, attics, and shelves, as well as the closets, attics and shelves of our minds.

What do we need? What do we crave? What is sufficient? What enhances our vanity? What is of the Lord? What is not? What labels do I wish to carry into the still- new year? Will I dare to live simply so as to be one with the Lord? I join you in this exploration!
~Joan Sobala, SSJ