I can’t seem to keep from thinking and talking about how our annual Marist theme and the question that sits behind it, ‘What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’just couldn’t have been better chosen for the times in which we find ourselves.
Yes, life is indeed wild, as we well know in new and radical ways. Wild in its unpredictability, wild in its extremes, wild in the way it expects us to respond with integrity to the most challenging of situations time and time again.
And don’t we also now have a new perspective on its preciousness? On our vulnerability – individually and collectively? On the reality that at any given moment, what we hold dear can be lost?
In this, I’ve been thinking not just about life itself (for surely the virus has made us all consider that our life and those for whom we care are more precious and precarious than ever),but also the elements of life we can take for granted: graciousness, care for the vulnerable, social order.
Yes, there have (and will continue to be) wonderful examples of generosity, gentleness and patience, but so too, we have seen that when the preciousness of a calm and ordered life is disrupted or threatened, it doesn’t take much for us to be tipped into the lesser acknowledged traits of our humanity (selfishness, greed, verbal and even physical violence).
Yes, life is both wild and precious, and it is in these wild times that our commitment to the preciousness of all life is most sorely tested.
Take, for example, the extent to which we are prepared to challenge the inclination in ourselves, in each other and in our society to be inward-facing, at a time when we are simultaneously called to isolate. That in our isolation, can we not just continue, but indeed grow, in our commitment to live and set an example of a life deeply rooted in appreciating the preciousness of kindness, humility, generosity and gratefulness, indeed, of love.
In this, as in all things, it matters what we feed out mind and hearts. Perhaps in the coming ‘down-time’ we can commit anew to spending some time reading, listening to, or watching the lives of the spiritual greats, so that this inclination to treasuring the preciousness of all might more deeply embed itself in our soul.
Let’s read the Gospels again, spend time with the writings of some of the holy people of modern times:Dorothy Day, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ronald Rolheiser, Joan Chittister or Thomas Merton (you may have other favourites to revisit and share).
Let’s watch movies about people who fought for justice in whatever time or place, and binge television shows that showcase kindness and joy.
Whatever wild times are coming our way, I pray that you and yours are safe, and that the period of cocooning isolation you undertake is life-giving and even joyful.