At mass this morning, I joined in declaring the words of a lovely old hymn:
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do, if with his love he befriends you.
2020, with its coronavirus, has offered me the time and the material on which to reflect, to pray, and to ponder. My hope is that God will sort this all out and show us the way. However, I have my moments when I long for all this to be over. To move on to the next thing. To close this chapter and put it behind us. Yet today, I find myself drawn to these words: ponder anew. What does that mean for me now? Could it be an invitation from God for me to stay put in this present discomfort and to take me deeper in some area? To continue to go to him and to ponder, perhaps in a new way?
I sometimes lament: “Am I at this place again?” This old hurt or fear or resentment. Maybe God is calling me to go higher, inviting me to learn to love beyond my present capacity. Perhaps God is perfecting me. Bringing me to something that I have not been able to do up until now.
So, I have a decision to make. I can resist or I can receive—staying open to what God has for me in this moment. To receive means to let it be done unto me. To let go of my natural desire to control and let God lead me. Be not afraid. Trust in God’s tender care for me and all His creation. Constantly claim God’s strength—His sovereignty. So, what does that look like in my day-to-day?
I can start by pondering anew. One way I do this is by reviewing my journals and my notes to self, reflecting on how they might apply to my present moment. In my review, here are a few notes I plan to ponder anew this month:
- We’re not here to make an impression. We’re here to make a difference.
- We make a greater difference by the love that we give rather than the positions that we take.
- You can either play God or you can reflect Him.
- Criticism is a detriment to the soul whether I’m criticizing another or myself.
- We can meet as equals and help one another.
- When I pray, I am saying that I’m willing to be helped.
- What is the best and most loving thing I can do in this situation? What would be most loving to myself and to others?
- Seek the good, the common good, in all things.
- What is God up to and how can I cooperate?
Each of these statements challenge me to think more deeply about areas where God is still at work in me. In a time of division, fear, and uncertainty, I sense that God is not done yet. Though I might want to be done, I believe God has more to say, more to do, more to give. God has more. He’s not done with the world, and he’s not done with me.
I recently ran across this prayer in my journal that I think applies not only to one’s family but to our world and our common good:
Lord, pour the balm of your mercy on the wounds of my family—the wounds I have suffered and those I have inflicted.
I’ll close with a piece that speaks to me personally and globally and gives me hope that there is purpose to this time.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
And that it may take a very long time.
And so, I think it is with you:
Your ideas mature gradually—let them grow.
Let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
And accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ