Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
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Spirituality: Summer’s mantra
by Father Michael Savelesky, for the Inland Register
(From the June 13, 2002 edition of the Inland Register)
The excited conversation already fills the air: “What are you going to do this summer?”
Typical response: “Go to the lake.”
Now, we all know in this neck of the woods that to “go to the lake” is not always to be taken literally. The phrase could be translated more literally as “Leave town.”
Yes, for many folks, the time is at hand for a change of pace and taking vacation time. Already the lower counts for weekend Mass attendance indicate that something is putting people on the move. School is out for the summer and people indeed are packing up the vans, SUVs and cars to head to places planned and places not-so-planned.
In a few all-too-short weeks it will be interesting to ask people what they did at the lake all summer. The typical answer predictably will be, “Oh, nothing.” Translated: Chilled out. Wasted time. Did whatever came to mind.
In sum, the extended summer break – which is dictated for so many of us by the school schedule – is a welcome opportunity to change pace and to recreate. But there’s more that should happen during our time at the lake than merely escape the boss, city traffic and the humdrum of work.
On the surface it may appear that during vacation time kids and adults alike just have fun or take trips. In reality, if all goes well (but not necessarily as planned) there is a re-creation of the inner self that should happen, too, during this time. We human beings are not just cogs in some huge machine that shuts down for repairs and a recharging of its batteries. We are persons with minds, bodies and souls whose wholesomeness calls for refurbishing. Play is a good way for this to happen. So, too, is quiet reflection.
Summer break provides a time to refocus and touch base with that energy of the Spirit which motivates our work, study and play all year long. It may sound rather trite, but it’s true: Even during the summer there is no vacation from our fundamental vocation to keep growing in our dignity as sons and daughters of God.
As people pack up for their vacation trips, they often take along a good book to read. Such things are the time-fillers of summer – just something to browse through when even summer gets a bit boring or when there is nothing to do but soak up the rays on the beach or at the pool.
A few weeks ago I ran across of type of summer mantra that could provide food for thought and reflection in such circumstances. A mantra is a mind-teasing phrase like, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” which, when focused upon, brings about a richer self consciousness. The speaker I listened to called his mantra the “Humility of Self-Confidence.” It is indeed a mind-teaser and soul-searcher that could occupy many an hour of reflection.
At first hearing, humility and self-confidence seem to be at odds with each other. Yet, in reality, they are not. True humility is not putting one’s self down or denying aspects about ourselves. In fact, humility (coming from the Latin word for “soil”) is the virtue that recognizes and champions the truth about ourselves. The humble are quite literally down to earth. They walk in the truth, admit what is true and search for what is true. In that light we can begin to see that perhaps there is truly a “humility of self-confidence.”
The more we face ourselves honestly, the more we possess ourselves honestly. The self we know becomes more and more the self that we can place confidence in, trust and cherish. This is true Christian self-love which forms the basis for our relationship with neighbor. Did not Jesus himself (quoting the best of his Jewish spiritual tradition) say that we were to love our neighbor in the same way we love ourselves?
They say we can’t love what we don’t know. (No wonder our neighbors suffer so often at the hand of our un-loving acts which spring from our lack of genuine self-love!)
When we are laying around on the beaches of the world or visiting God-knows-what parts of the planet this summer, we can take advantage of our change of pace and reflect on “humility of self-confidence.” A good way to start may be to ponder the central question: What is the truest thing I could say about my self? In so doing we just may discover our souls and embrace their goodness.
(Father Savelesky is pastor of Assumption Parish, Spokane. Harcourt Religion Publishers has issued his book Catholics Believe.) (Download order form in pdf format)
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