Since January 1st, I've been doing a couple of things differently...as with all resolutions, I've been consistent with some of the changes and not so consistent with others. One of the things I've been doing for the last seven months, albeit not on a regular basis, has been following along with Fr. Mike's Daily Bible in a Year podcast. I've even been able to listen to some of the podcasts while in my office at work between students coming to see me during office hours. How wonderful it is to not have to separate faith from work!
I liken the podcast sessions to mini-homilies. It's been a real treat to listen to Fr. Mike Schmitz read the different passages of scripture followed by a brief reflection or mini-homily on that day's scripture readings. Usually, when the podcast conclude, I'm left wanting more information as they feel as if they end too quickly at times!
This same feeling occurs after a dream I have with my Dad in it. I'm always left with the feeling of "Just one more minute, please!" as I emerge from a dream and wake up in the bed knowing that Dad is fading away again. The dreams don't come often but when they do, they're very poignant and impactful. One such dream involved my walking into my parents' living room and seeing Dad sitting in his recliner. He had an IV in his wrist but that was ignored as I took in his cheerful and chipper countenance. He was very alert and happy and immediately scooped me up in a bear hug tangling the IV cord but not caring about that. The surprise at how well he was blended with the joy of turning around and seeing Charlotte appear in a bright sunshiney yellow dress. I remember exclaiming, "Daddy!" at the same time as Charlotte as she caught side of her Dad in the doorway as my own lifted me up in that bear hug.
When I woke up at that moment, I was still feeling buoyant and lifted until it dissipated a few minutest later in the still dark morning hours of the quiet and still bedroom.
Around that time of the dream described above is when I heard a new name for me from Fr. Mike's readings of the bible. I had never heard of Jephthah or the story of his daughter and how he was not wise in making a certain oath that directly connected with his only child: his daughter. For anyone who wants to listen to it, it's from Day 92 (fast forward to 17 min.). I wanted to learn more about this story and stumbled upon this article. Much has been said about the unnamed daughter and motives behind both father and daughter in how the story unfolds. I'm still mulling over it all in my head but Fr. Mike, in his homily or reflection on this passage, spoke of the importance of exercising prudence and wisdom when making promises or oaths.
Reflecting on this story that was new for me, the sacrificing of the daughter, again his only child, her desire to remain alone for two months before meeting her fate, and in thinking of how humans act hastily or in a rash way, I got to thinking about how often we fall into quick and short-term pleas or promises...especially when trying to escape something that is uncomfortable or outside our comfort zones.
It is so important to not grow lax in guarding our hearts and thoughts. We must practice being self-aware, discerning if the thoughts are of God, and safeguarding the things we allow ourselves to view and do. May we never grow complacent and seek to exercise prudence and wisdom in all that we do!
Ultimately, we can also only control ourselves...we are unable to control others in our lives whether they be spouses, siblings, friends, other relatives, acquaintances, even children. Lord, help us to see the importance of our taking responsibility for ourselves, and help us to recognize the effects our actions have on others, both those we love and those who are strangers on us, and help us to radiate your light and love to others like rays of the yellow sun's sunshine! Help us to lift up others in a jubilant manner helping others to forget what weighs them down in that moment by you filling up this place through our presence in others' lives!