Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Reality is not against us

There is something I know to be true but I have a difficult time adhering to it. It is the fact that reality is not against me, but for me, that my life and the moments, events, and people that make it up are my path to destiny. I am never reminded of this more than when I receive Traces each month. I am particularly reminded by reading the letters. Two that I read this evening after School of Community moved me to the point of needing to turn my laptop back on and write about this experience, both to make sense of it myself and to perhaps communicate it to others. The first was sent by Giuseppina, who is 85. In her letter she shares some experiences she had during a recent hospital stay; what struck me were these words: "If you let His presence in, you learn to look, stay, and to come to the judgment that reality is not against you, but is for your own good." If being the key, it is up to us, left to our freedom. Too often I assert myself against reality, trying to twist it.

In another letter, from Laura, who writes about her relationship with her daughter, the magnitude of experience, everyday experience, is realized, simple things that happened to her that caused her to lift her gaze and realize that reality is not against me. This caused a shift "from an obstinate reliance on [her] own strength to the openness to the forms reality was presenting [her].

It is funny because I had an unpleasant conversion with my own son on the drive home this evening. I was the cause of the unpleasantness. I also felt that our School of Community this was a little abstract and discursive, which I find a bit frustrating. This frustration is a provocation for me to be a better leader, which requires me to realize that even the reality of SofC is not against me and to see that the charism of the Movement is the work of Another, not my work and that not adhering to the method is an assertion of myself, a failure of trust, which is to entrust myself and our School to Another. It is not just facing reality, but engaging it, seeing that everything that happens to me is for my own good. These are the kind of words that sound empty, but are not when filled with desire.

Veni Sancti Spiritus, veni per Mariam.


  1. Hi Scott! I have been moved by this same train of thought and also moved by the letters in Traces. This concept first grabbed me when I heard (during last year's Exercises?) that Fr. Giussani said on his deathbed, "Realty has never betrayed me." What an amazing thing to be able to say at such a moment!

    Also, Chris once mentioned to my husband that it doesn't matter what is happening in one's SoC (and it doesn't matter who the leader is) as long as I speak only about experience -- then the rest doesn't matter and I will always be helped to grow.

  2. It is speaking about experience and only about experience that is precisely the challenge. Sometimes we're there, sometimes not. We're now smaller than we were, this is part of reality, too. I worry about all the wrong things. I need to remember that SofC is itself an encounter, a privileged one, not a flashy, programmatic, whipping up of excitement, but a reflection on experience, a companionship of life, the work of Another.

    My reality, the one I need to embrace, is that I have never belonged to, or even participated in a SofC I did not start and lead. Hence, I need to be better at reaching out, to you, to Sharon, to Greg, to Alex, to Fred and just ask some questions.

    I can say reality has never bertrayed me. On the other hand, I cannot say that I have not betrayed reality. I do so every time to try to get under, over, around, below, or above what is happening before me. By seeking to do this I am avoiding looking Christ in the face, which is so necessary, it is all that is necessary.

  3. This whole meditating on reality thing is something that has taken on a completely new meaning to me of late. It's hard for me to put into words... at least after midnight.... but I wrote a blog post after returning from our Easter Vigil Mass on this thought. It suddenly struck me, as if as a brand new realization, that the ultimate expression of reality is God's love. That reality is love, and love is reality -- more than anything else. It makes me realize, though, the deep extent to which I have lived life hiding from Reality (from God, from Love) out of fear that God's face was really one of terror, of my death and not my life. In other words, that reality is for me, not against me.

    I can't explain how this makes everything seem new.

    Thanks for writing.

    Oh, and thanks for the Lemonade Stand award, too!


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