Day 79 The end of the love affair

I think the love affair began when I was just a child.

There was some undefinable pleasure in making my bed, shelving my toys, books and games and hanging my clothes in just the right spot.  Something so seductive, even for a child, in creating order.  However, like an alcoholic who gets that first taste of liquor, this particular pleasure had an appetite and gradually, almost imperceptibly, I found myself attempting to control every aspect of my life.   In some ways it is a fantastic way to live—the belief that everything is in its exact place.  There is a deep satisfaction in being able to put your hand on exactly the document, book, quote, feeling and personality one needs.  The knowledge that your life is neat and tidy like a well-made bed enables you to sleep soundly at night.

And then, quite rudely, you are made aware that control is a glorious illusion.

The dissipation of control happens in small ways throughout one’s life; a disappointing grade in one’s academic effort, an argument that escalates into a permanent estrangement, a rejection, a diagnosis and ultimately the dark and worrisome day when a total stranger wheels you into an operating room so another stranger can open your body with a knife.  Those are the moments when one realizes the depth and breadth of powerlessness.  I’ve always believed that control was power but maybe I was wrong – perhaps the real strength is to be found in recognizing our power-lessness.   For all the attempted control in the world can’t keep the cancer cells from multiplying, the forest fires from burning and the destructive encroachment of identity theft.  What if once we stop grasping it becomes possible to trust and in trusting . . . find peace.  After all, we enter this world in a powerless state and if lucky enough to live a long life, end powerlessly.  What if the real quest is to acknowledge our vulnerability and even embrace our dependence?  What if the great revelation of our lives is that control is nothing more than a fantasy . . . a glorious illusion?

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want
     In verdant pastures he gives me repose; beside restful waters he leads me;
           he refreshes my soul.
He guides me in right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil for you are at my side
           with your rod and your staff you give me courage~ 
                                                ~Psalm 23
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10 Responses to Day 79 The end of the love affair

  1. andy says:

    Good blog, very real.

  2. sylviadeck says:

    Thank you for these insights. Have you read Richard Rohr’s “Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life”? He addrsses many of the issues you’re noted in his book. Hope you’re well, dear friend. You’re in my thoughts and prayers.

  3. Sue H says:

    Profound! Peace to you, Fr. Matt, and thank-you!

  4. Linda says:

    I remember thinking as a child that when I grew up one of the perks would be that I was in control. Oh what a rude awakening maturity brought!

  5. June Smith says:

    One of your best, Father Matt.

  6. Mary t Christensen says:

    Some lessons take longer than others. Thank you for reminding us it is never too late to start.

  7. Maralynn says:

    WOW! I really needed to be reminded about this “control” thing! Thank you ever so tenderly!

  8. Jolene smith says:

    Your thoughts are full of wisdom. I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in the message . I have accepted the vulnerability. I am astonished by how much I believed I had control. I know I cannot walk, I can’t take a step without God’s rod and staff. I am lost without it, unable to stand straight , unable to take a step. Thank you for putting my feelings and thoughts into words, it is clarity for me.

  9. Kim says:

    This is quite a revelation. Thank you for your honesty.

  10. Susan says:

    At the end of every Mass at St. Mary’s we all say the St. Ignatius prayer: “Take Lord and receive, all my liberty, my memory, understanding and my entire will, all that I have and possess You have given all to me. To You, O Lord, I return it. Dispose of it wholly according to Your will. Give me Your love and Your grace, for this is sufficient for me.” I pray one day I can live those words without hesitation or condition. Best to leave everything in God’s hands. Total Surrender. In recent times, it’s clear to me that this is what God wants for us – not to be attached to people, places, our ‘work’ or possessions, even our memories – good or bad. When it’s time to move on, we have to be ready. Whether it’s across town, another state or a whole new reality.

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