Seeing now from then
May 9, 2007
I stood by the bedside of a friend in the late stages of cancer. She talked openly of her life and what that life looked like today. Regrets and wishes notwithstanding, she saw her journey as making sense from this now, most riveting moment.
Stephen Covey takes us to the end of the continuum, suggesting we evaluate today's actions by how they might appear to those who stand by our coffin at the end of life.
Some days are filled with chattering issues, decisions, unexpected interlopers of people and ideas that throw one off track. With hardly a second to consider one's response, I feel like a government minister, in Question Period, blind-sided by an unexpected question from the opposition. (My apologies to those unfamiliar with the Parliamentary system.)
Seeing my response played on the evening news (that is, in my mind), what I said may look horrible, hopefully uncharacteristic and surely un-Christ-like. And it was said for all to hear!
What helps me filter a response that corresponds to what is good? It's not the question. It's not the moment. And it's not environment. It surely is internal.
Chris Lowney in Heroic Leadership chronicles the life and ideas of the remarkable 450-year organization we refer to as Jesuits. Loyola, in crafting disciplines for its members, requires the daily habit of reflecting on what one has done that very day. This conditioning triggers a daily assessment. One isn't allowed to push the actual process of reflection out to that in-the-future moment which never really comes.
As much as I'd like to cast off those failures with "Well folks, that's just me," the discipline of daily reflection allows the Spirit to act within the sphere of my current memory even as we discipline children within memory of their disobedience.
It triggers a spin on the environmental adage: hope eternally, love daily.
Dear Father, the One in whom resides all I need for goodness this day, may today's lessons not be lost in the forgetfulness of tomorrow's yesterday. May I instead be willing in reflection to remind (myself) and be reminded (by the Spirit) of your will, so that in my tomorrow there is a progression that surely and inevitably leads to the purpose marked and lived by your Son, whom we call Lord. Amen.
I will consider, as if I were at the point of death, what procedure and norm I will at that time wish I had used in the manner of making the present election. Then, guiding myself by that norm, I should make my decision on the whole matter.