Tuesday, October 6, 2020


This is the thirty-fifth in a series of periodic reflections on the "ordinary things" that many people do on a regular basis without much thought. During this pandemic, I am developing a need to "rage, rage" against haste and laziness and replace it with care and attention. My hope is to become personally more intentional about doing ordinary things with care and focused attention, while inspiring others to maybe do the same.


"Metenoiete! Change the way you think about things! 


I can't emphasize enough how important the two quotes above have been in my life. 

I was raised to believe that life is something that happens to you and all you can do is accept it. In other words, I was taught to be a victim of the things that were happening around me.

Later, I came to believe that working for structural changes would result in making me happy. In other words, if I could get enough other people to change, I would end up happy. 

One event in particular caused me to understand the real secret of life and that is to change myself from the inside out. A changed mind was the secret to happiness. 

All through seminary, I was told that if you "messed up" they would send you to Somerset. Somerset was as far from Louisville you could get in the diocese in those days. 

By the time I was ordained, I had my heart set on an urban assignment or maybe a small city assignment. When the priest personnel board called to give me my assignment, I was told that I was being sent to Somerset! I was distraught!

Instead of accepting it as inevitable, something that just happened to me, I fought with the personnel board to change its mind. When I failed, I presumed that I was doomed to ten years of unhappiness. 

Half way down there, I had a conversion experience. I decided to change my mind. I decided to take back my power and decided that I was going to like it. I decided that it was going to be the best assignment ever! Since I did not get what I wanted, I decided to want what I got. I chose my reaction rather than allowing my reaction make me a victim. 

It worked! It turned out to be a great assignment. It opened many doors that led me to places and opportunities I had never imagined for myself.  Changing my own mind saved my life! It had to be a moment of pure grace! Grace, of course, is God's gratuitous help, but it requires that we respond positively to that invitation to trust that God has a wonderful gift for you, life to the full! That lesson, changing my mind to change my experience,  I have been able to apply many times in the last fifty years of priestly ministry. It has given me power so many times when I didn't think I had any. 

We need not be total victims of this pandemic. We can choose how we want to respond to it. We can see only disasters or we can change our minds and see the opportunities even in this situation. This can be a time laced with fear, anger and foolish behavior or it can be a time laced with faith, trust and heroism. We can choose how we want this time to be for us! Yes, we have the freedom to choose our response to this pandemic and thereby choose our experience of it! 


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