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alex-jones-Tq4YjCa2BSc-unsplashGot a problem? “Give it to God,” they say. Only sometimes it’s not that simple. I, for one, tend to be an ambivalent giver. I claim to hand over my trouble, only to take it back obsessively, ruminate on it, rummage through the possibilities, ponder all the “what-ifs.” As if Providence rests in my nervous little hands.

The great and wise Richard Rohr once said, “The opposite of Faith is not doubt; the opposite of faith is control.” It’s a lesson we, like poor Hamlet, learn the hard way. That in the end, “There’s a divinity that shapes our ends, / Rough-hew them how we will—….”

And, as we know, “the rest is silence.”

Of what substance
is hardship made
that, in shaping it
with sturdy hands,
it liquefies, slumps,
refuses to hold its shape?
Persists with devilish intensity
to be captured or controlled?
If only we understood:
That in lifting our hands,
in setting free that which
we cannot sculpt to our ends,
the obdurate thing will fly from us,
ascend to one who will form it.
The shape it takes, no wringing of limbs
will change. It is what it will be.
Swallow it, in pieces, as you can.

“We seek what we are.” – Richard Rohr

I find myself surrounded by soulful souls. I guess it’s true that you find what you’re looking for — I’ve always been a spiritual seeker. That the people I hold most dear to me are deeply spiritual people should come as no surprise. Yet I’ve always been surprised at the quality of my friends and family. They are good people: Loving, smart, strong, gracious, talented. Could it be that somewhere in me these same qualities exist? Does like always attract like?

Maybe, but what I think Rohr is saying is that we seek the God we find in ourselves. I suppose that’s why some people’s gods are so small. I prefer to imagine a big God who loves extravagantly to a little god who quibbles over minutiae and hates people who don’t fit into his own teeny, tiny mold. We are all limited in our view of God (who is too big for any of us to really apprehend), but our own limitations (to love, to forgive, to accept) appear to narrow our perceptions even further. And that’s just sad.

In truth, we are all small. We’re a bunch of shrieking atoms on a blue dot hurtling through the vastness of space. What mark we make on this earth will almost surely be washed away by the tides of time. Why on earth would any of want to make ourselves smaller?

God challenges us to be big. Not by any of the markers of society, of course — not in wealth, social status, physicality. God wants us to grow our hearts. And the bigger we grow them, the more we’ll find ourselves surrounded by big-hearted people. Love begets love.

Of course, if you find yourself surrounded by bigots and haters, finger-pointers and middle finger-lifters, you just might want to take a good long look at yourself. Is that kind of smallness really what you’re seeking? And if so, why?

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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