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When I read about missionaries overseas, I’m of two minds. Appreciative of anyone lending a hand to those in need, but ambivalent about the fact that it comes with a price tag. Listen to a sermon. Follow this religion. Do things our way.

To me, the essence of the gospel is outreach that makes a positive impact for someone in a negative circumstance and expects nothing in return. This church initiative in England that asks congregants to use an app to report slavery at car washes is a good example.

The phrase, “of two minds,” came to me again as I read about the cancellation of Roseanne Barr’s sitcom re-boot in the wake of her racist tweet. Several years ago, I wrote an article about the Secret, a new-age philosophy and film. I contacted celebrities who’d commented about it, one of whom was Roseanne.

“The Secret is based on Abrahamic meditations, and should be used only to bring peace and blessings to the mind, and NOT for material gain, which will make it backfire,” she said in an email. It wasn’t her agent or assistant, but Roseanne, responding to me directly. I noticed two things: she doesn’t have a handler and she has strong opinions. She’s of two minds. Seeker of spiritual truth. Spewer of hate speech.

I’m of two minds in terms of what to do with notable figures who go off the rails in this way. On the one hand, what they’ve done is inexcusable. On the other, isolating them in perpetuity won’t rehabilitate them, or make the issues go away. I really wish there were an app for that.

A friend of the great and good Thomas Merton once told him that all he had to do to become a saint was to ask for it out loud, and the grace of God would do the rest. My thoughts are more along the lines of St. Mother Theodore Guerin, who said (I paraphrase) that there is no great trick to becoming a saint. You simply do all the ordinary things you usually do, but you do them with love. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? One of my role models, Sr. Denise Wilkinson, tried to follow this mantra for one week. It was exhausting, impossible.

I don’t want to be a saint, but not for the reasons one might imagine. — like a propensity for wine, (wo)men and song or sex, drugs and rock & roll or any other of a variety of vices. I may also be the only person in America who does not want to win the big jackpot at our local Native American casino, because those that do are obligated to appear in a commercial bragging about their fortune. Let me be clear: I don’t want to win the money not because I don’t want the money, but because I don’t want to have to appear on television. Give me my Dickensonian turret. I would rather remain anonymous. That’s my problem with sainthood, too — too much fame. I don’t deserve it, and I don’t want it.

This is not to say that I don’t aspire to higher things. If it is true that all we need do is to give our deepest wishes a voice (à la The Secret), then I wish for something more substantial than fame: I want God to be the center of my life. Again, this is not an easy thing.

Sometimes I feel like I not only fail in doing ordinary things with love, but that I fail to do them with any sort of conscious mindset at all. I cook, I clean, I work, often in a sort of concentrated daze…I remember little of it afterwards, as if the tasks were committed, and my life lived, in an alcoholic blackout. I do them by rote. I get them done. But not with intention, not with feeling. And if God is the center of my life, then my life deserves constant attention and passionate intent. I am not there yet.

But I will put it out into the universe anyway: God, I want you to be the center of my life. Let all else fall away. For if you, if love, is the center of my life, then I have everything I need. Even a saint would agree with that.


Have a Mary Little Christmas

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