Our Most Underdeveloped Gift

15 Jan

Bird sunrise

Last April, poop fell from the sky and hit me. Twice actually. On the same day. Presumably not the same bird, though I can’t be sure of that.

The first round landed square in the middle of my bald head on a bright, cloudless morning as I dropped the kids at school. The second connected with one of my favorite shirts that afternoon about 100 yards from the scene of the first crime, right after I’d finished recounting the first episode to some friends.

I quickly wrote about this travesty and the gales of laughter it prompted from adults whom I’d assumed were on my side. And I haven’t posted anything on this blog since then.

Because when birds poop on you twice in the same day, what else can you say?

As it turns out, the birds did me a favor. After two-and-a-half years of semi-regular blogging, I needed a break. We’re all hardwired for wanting fresh starts, according to an interview with a Wharton Business School professor that I read recently. And that’s presumably because we’re also predisposed to running out of gas when we’ve been doing something for a while.

Now I’m back, having salvaged my shirt at the drycleaner and given some serious thought to the future of this blog. Long fascinated by cloistered monks, I’ve grown equally intrigued by what Jesuits call “contemplatives in action” – people from all walks of life who are out in the world every day making a living, caring for their families, serving others and doing it all firmly grounded in prayer and mindfulness

I’m currently reading Contemplatives in Action: The Jesuit Way, which explores the value of the contrasts inherent in Jesuit spirituality – the push and pull between trusting God to guide us and using our talents to forge our own path, between prayer and action, between detaching ourselves from the world’s goods and making use of them.

It’s not just Jesuit priests who experience those tensions. We all do. Every day. We’re all pilgrims in this thrilling, frightening, frantic, unpredictable world, trying to discern why we’re here and what we’re supposed to do and, maybe most of all, how to search for and find those answers in our daily circumstances.

Fr. Louis Canino, an excellent priest who is also a wise friend, once told me, “Everybody has a contemplative bent. It’s our most underdeveloped gift, and the purpose of prayer is to nourish it.”

My hope is to better develop that gift in myself this year and perhaps help nourish it a bit in others. This will be the place to explore how that experiment’s going. May our messy quests begin anew.

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7 Responses to “Our Most Underdeveloped Gift”

  1. Jonathan January 16, 2015 at 2:31 am #

    Welcome home!

    • Stephen January 17, 2015 at 8:25 pm #

      Thanks, Jonathan! Appreciate you stopping by.

  2. Erin January 16, 2015 at 9:48 am #

    Once again, excellent thoughts! I’m excited to see where this journey takes us all.

    • Stephen January 17, 2015 at 8:26 pm #

      Hi Erin — great to hear rom you. Hope you and your family had a great Christmas — missed you at the reunion!

  3. Dolly January 17, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

    Yeahhhhhhh! Messy Quest is back…..thanks Stephen. Your beautifully written “contemplative thoughts” have been missed. Thanks for helping nourish them in your followers.

    • Stephen January 17, 2015 at 8:28 pm #

      You’re very kind, Dolly — have always greatly appreciated your support! We now have a miniature schnauzer that will no doubt be the source of a few posts. Tell Mark we said hi.

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