Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Dust devils

by Father Michael Savelesky, for the Inland Register

(From the October 20, 2011 edition of the Inland Register)

Father Michael Savelesky “Dust devils!” a friend of mine recently bemoaned. “That’s all we’re going to be; just dust devils.” After a (typically) hectic day created by an unbelievably pressed schedule, my friend was describing what extra-terrestrials were going to find left of us should they ever visit planet Earth. “We get so busy, we just spin in place until we burn ourselves into nothingness,” she observed. “The only trace those little green creatures are going to find is puffs of black dust.” I agreed – as we both rushed off to our next appointments, of course.

A glance at calendars and date books confirms my friend’s observation. In many instances the days are dark with appointment reminders and penciled commitments. Meetings, dental appointments, soccer, card parties, hair dresser, golf, Scouts … the list goes on and on, and we spin in frenzied circles. Much ado about – what? Which of us does not experience the frenzy, especially this time of year?

One doesn’t have to be an extra-terrestrial to make an observation about our modern life style. The spinning frenzy of our culture often gives us an out-of-body experience in which we feel disconnected from our true selves. We sense our bodies going in one direction, our true self in another. Technology and American affluence provide us with a smorgasbord of possibilities and we literally gorge ourselves to death. In our attempts to do all things and be all places, we become victims of deep impersonalization. The result is death of the spirit. Nothing left.

We Christians are part of our culture, and, unfortunately, all too often it becomes a part of us. We are not immune to the urgent cry of our culture to spin ourselves into little dust piles. But we should know better. Because of God’s Word made flesh in Jesus, we Christians claim an awareness of our dignity as sons and daughters of God. The path of discipleship leads us through this world, but keeps us beyond it.

Busy as we become, our perspective of faith gives perspective and balance to the rest of life. We know that we are not just chunks of matter tossed about like cosmic dust. We are created from that cosmic dust, but the Spirit of God gives us life. We are to be stewards and masters of creation, not its victims. With God’s gift of Spirit, we are liberated to make free choices about what commitments and obligations fill our days. Even taking into account those commitments and assignments which are beyond our immediate control, still we do not lose the freedom we have within. We can embrace the most pressed daily schedule with a balance which does not let it consume our soul and destroy our Spirit.

Prayer – turning our minds and hearts to God – is a welcome and necessary protector. Prayer is not yet another calendared obligation, but rather a dimension of daily life which gives purpose and vision to the busiest of calendars. To maintain that perspective and balance is a constant challenge to Christian spirituality. The tug to do … and to do … and to do will always be there. (I personally think the ancient cave dwellers experienced the same problem.) Why we do what we do is what matters. If we pass through daily life literally jerked about by the expectations and demands on our time, we will spin with increasing speed. In the end we will burn out, and some green-eyed tweeter will find but a puff of dust.

Our life in Christ bids us claim our dignity and mark out for ourselves that time and space in our calendars in which we can play or just be who we are. The choice is ours. We need not do everything just because we can - or because someone says we must. Talk about spin control. Who’s in charge of our lives, anyway?

(Father Savelesky is pastor of Assumption Parish, Spokane, director of the diocese’s Deacon Formation Program, and Moderator of the Curia.)

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