Thursday, November 11, 2010


This Latin phrase actually might be loosely translated “throwaway lines.” They are not necessarily relevant to the main thrust of an argument, but they are worthwhile and interesting on their own terms.

One such statement appears in the 8 Nov 2010 issue of America, in the book review section. It is a review of the letters of Dorothy Day, edited by Robert Ellsberg, and reviewed by Notre Dame theology professor Michael Baxter. He writes (p. 27): “…detachment—the kind that [Rev John] Hugo urged—is acquired less by inspired resolutions, more by practicing wisdom as it is revealed in the unfolding of one’s life.”

A more pietistic and simpler version of this statement might be “Allow yourself to be the person God is making you to be.” Even more trendy a version, yet still evocative and effective, would be “Bloom where [and how] you are planted.”

In discussing vocations, I often share with young people a number of truths: our minds are about 2/3 unconscious in function; most of the unconscious has to do with memories, recalled or repressed, and most of these are about persons we loved or failed to love, or who loved or failed to love us.

Given the summary of those memories and the events within which they were shaped, I ask them to ask themselves one honest question: “Given who I am now, as a result of what has happened to me and what I have done, what my memories are, for good or bad: given all of this, how and where can I best serve you, O Lord, and be all you wish me to be?”

Another way of asking this is to co-opt a line from Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and ask, “Lord, can I say YES to you as I am, where I am, how I have come to be, and do something beautiful for you as a result?”

Who doesn’t yearn to do “something beautiful for God”?

But I cannot know what that will be, for me, if I don’t accept who/what I am, brokenness and all. We all of us are called, in differing ways, to be “wounded healers,” tools in the hands of the Almighty for the benefit of our brothers and sisters, and ourselves. We are indeed saved by grace, but the Lord desires to use us in the process…

It’s a great journey: but it begins with the riskiest of all journeys—the journey inward.

1 comment:

  1. As one who has wandered down the insightful past, my self-portrait began to emerge. There has been trial and error in this process of discernment. Sometimes the portrait became a "Dorian Gray"-ugh- and other times a personable one. Occasionally there is a lapse of motivation and a well used Pennsylvania Dutch expression is elicited:
    "Too soon oldt....Too late smarts"
    Thankfully, this corrected itself by prayerful graces. These graces nudged me to put on my spiritual working clothes and delve a little deeper.
    Lord, Am I There Yet?