Jim O'Leary

Waverly Star

By Jim O'Leary

An e-mail newsletter for and about Waverly people, used with permission in the HLW Herald and on this web site.

  March 22, 2004

Longing for a peaceful world, and the reality it isn't here yet

We human beings can sometimes be a bundle of contradictions. We sometimes want everything at once. We want to be a saint, but we want to experience every sensation sinners enjoy.

We want to be innocent and pure, but we also want to be experienced, sophisticated and taste all of life. We want to help the poor and have a simple lifestyle, but we also want all the comforts of the rich.

We want to have the deep thoughts that come from solitude and silence, but we don't want to miss a thing. We want to pray, but we also want to watch television, read, talk to friends and go out.

We have choices to make and we have to make them. A friend of mine put this better than I could not long ago and she gave me permission to use what she wrote as a column for "The South Texas Catholic."

'Living With a Holy Tension'

by Paula Goldapp

There are two stickers on my car's rear window. The one on the left is a blue circle with a white dove in the middle surrounded by the word "Peace" in about 10 different languages. The sticker on the right is black and gold with a star, and it reads: "Proud Mother of a Soldier - An Army of One."

Sometimes I think those stickers sum up the tension of our times - or more likely, the tension that has existed since people first inhabited the earth.

We feel the pull, and try to make sense of what seem to be opposing forces in our homes, our communities and in our church.

On the homefront, my son just went back to Iraq after spending two weeks at home for rest and relaxation. He's been there since last April, so I imagine that it would take much more than two weeks to feel rested and relaxed. (I'm still not sure how you take a quick break from the war.)

I do know that it's not a natural impulse for a mother to send a child, even if he's nearly 23, back into a dangerous situation.

During those two weeks, at his request, we kept activities to a minimum and eating to a maximum. We tried to be as normal as possible despite the underlying tension that pull between a longing for an immediate, peaceful world and the reality that it isn't here yet.

In our communities we create programs, agencies, laws and initiatives geared toward promoting good health, helping the needy, inspiring our youth, supporting the arts.

Yet sometimes the causes seem so numerous and our resources seem so small that the tension of deciding which effort to back scares us away from making any commitment at all. There is a pull between helping a greater good and the personal cost if we decide to give of our money or time.

In our church, we stand for and proclaim many high ideals, yet must meet people in the realities of their situations.

We protect the unborn, yet must reach out to the woman who just left the abortion clinic. We decry murder, but will pray with the man on death row. We embrace the sanctity of marriage and stable, intact families, but help the divorced put their lives back together. We pray for an end to war and look for peaceful solutions, but we also pray for the soldier and pat him on the back. And the list goes on and on.

The tension exists. The goal and the reality intersect each other as if they were traveling in different directions.

Yet they do meet where they cross, just like the Cross of Jesus, who himself is the ultimate intersection of the human and the divine.

Before he began his public ministry, before he took up his cross, we are taught that Jesus went out into the desert alone. We recall that experience each year as we observe the season of Lent.

On Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, we are marked on our foreheads with a cross of ashes, a reminder of the holy tension that exists within each one of us. If we take a cue from Jesus, we may set our many activities aside for a while and spend some time in the desert, time alone in prayer, even if just for a few minutes each day.

It may help us to become a little more human. It may help us to be in better touch with the divine kingdom inside each of us.

It may help us to live with the tension, the crosses that we each may bear. It may give us some insight and guidance as we decide which cause to support, as we embrace those who fall short of high ideals and as we wait for sons and daughters to come home.

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