Learning to co-operate is not easy. We have different opinions and I have been using my veto too many times in important decisions. Getting back to clear waters after that always takes time and corrections, which in turn means that I procrastinate and hesitate to put things into practice. Unfortunately (yes, I know that freedom is the basis of love and God knows that we need it, and therefore saying “unfortunately” is just my fallen human opinion) it is I who have the right of veto – but fortunately He is the better politician.
My projects? I am writing this on Vappu Monday morning, and very soon I will need to go for a run if I want to do it today and I can still make it in time to town to meet up with friends. Should I go for a run or finish this blog post? To me it seems that the more holy project would be finishing this writing, but something pushes me to go for the run.
I have been rather diligently training for a Bodom Trail race this coming Friday. I joined my company’s (A insinöörit) team when they asked who wants to go. Why did I join the team, knowing very well that it will make me to go for fast runs? Running fast is not always that much fun, but I would put up with it in order to reach this arbitrary goal. It seems to me that the motivation pushing me to reach the goal determines if this is a holy project or an less holy one.
Am I doing this because I know that I can run fast on the trails (i.e., out of pride to boost my ego) or out of love perhaps to some degree for my co-workers (team-building), but more importantly out of Love for my Creator who planted this “ambition” - if I may call it that – into my heart?
Is there something intrinsically beautiful in working towards goals? Even if the projects seem arbitrary and are not obviously the most loving things to do. I don’t think there are easy, straightforward answers, but it does feel to me that God knows me and knows that this running project was good for me. He helped me with the project, providing the health and prudence to get out and run fast regularly.
God is merciful and helps me with my projects, always. So how can I know if I am taking up my projects or His projects?
If I picked the more holy option in my mind (staying in my apartment to finish this particular post) perhaps I would have missed all these other ideas? Perhaps the more holy option in the end was to go for run? Who am I to estimate or judge the end results from my teeny-weeny perspective? My duty is just to be an obedient co-pilot in my life.
Perhaps here I could refer the reader to blessed J. H. Newman’s great prayer “Some Definitive Service” to make up your mind yourself.
Coming back to projects. Why do we human beings take up all sorts of extra projects, whether it is learning to play an instrument, learning to cook or something else? They say Heaven is eternal rest. For myself I can say that I would much rather have a super-busy month than a month of just lying in my bed “resting”.
So what about the Heavenly Jerusalem? It is a city: busy, full of life, whether it is in the arts, or sports or simply rest. There is a place for all of us to be fully ourselves, each one reflecting God’s beauty in a personal way. “Unity in distinction” as Fr. Gianni keeps repeating.
OK… but what about the words in Psalm 46 “Be still, and know that I am God”? These words have followed me, perhaps more than anything else, since my first “true” encounter with God. The word “still”? perhaps this has little to do with our outward actions, perhaps I can be still while running as fast as I can (which is not that fast…) if I am absorbed in a holy project that God wants me to do. Perhaps the most outwardly active person can be committed to the sin of sloth if he/she has no interest, let alone passion, for the things of God – growing in faith, hope and love.
God wants us to desire to become more holy, not for His sake, but for our sake, and, yes, thus for His sake.
Being attentive to my soul seems the key to thriving in this human project. “Folding the wings of our intellect” (Catherine Doherty) is often the hardest thing to do. I am used to operating through “hard thinking”, pondering the pros and cons of decisions until I am exhausted and confused, but not a tiny bit closer to the answer.
Faith has opened for me this totally new way of operating. I don’t need to think in every turn which way to go (I would not only drain myself, but also choose wrong anyway) instead trust the good Lord to steer the way, I just need to make sure to keep close to Him.
Well, that went off a bit of a tangent. But I need to return to the basic question: what makes us human beings take up projects and want to reach goals? For example, this running race with no clear reference to God. The same virtues of wisdom, prudence etc. may be exercised in this project as in a project that seems to be “more holy”, such as say reading a spiritual book or going to daily Mass. We are training these virtues that are needed in the race towards the ultimate goal - which is eternal life.
Eternal life seems so far away and so abstract, while running well on Friday seems a much more tangible goal and reaching it will give me a short interval of pleasure. However, I cannot really put my finger on the actual “use” of this “accomplishment”. What do I gain? Nothing really.
Well, I am going to run less now. I will give my knees some rest, and I look forward to finding out what sort of projects God will bring to my life instead. I am hoping for more time to share with my brothers and sisters in Christ, perhaps a glass of wine or an ice cream on a balcony patio later in the afternoon of a sunny day. Will this seemingly unholy request help me in the race towards Heaven? Well, it is just a harmless request and it is up to God to process and answer it in His way. I am sure He can organize this to be the best way to glorify Him by just being present in some of my loved ones’ life and trying to bring Christ to that situation. Well, perhaps He has something else planned; with eager expectation I look forward to every moment – let it be unto me according to Your Word.
Please Lord Jesus, grant me the grace to be working with you and for you every moment of my days. Mother Mary, help me to hear the whispering voice of the Holy Spirit, and fix my gaze firmly on one goal and one goal only – eternal life – the only goal ultimately worth working for.
About the Author
Tea was born as a non-practising Lutheran in Raisio. IN 2009 she moved to Canada seeking the truth in science, but stumbled onto God. He remained her second choice over skiing and orienteering for Sunday activities for years, but finally in 2015 Tea quit her job in Germany, and went off for an adventure with Lord Jesus, found Mother Mary on the way, and has never since looked back. 2016 she was confirmed Catholic at the Madonna House Apostolate in Ontario. Later God convinced her to stay in Finland after spending some months at Stella Maris and finding there a new spiritual home; physically she currently resides in Helsinki.