Memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary
A couple years ago, around this time of year, I was blessed to go on a 7-day backpacking trip in Olympic National Park with some friends from college. We affectionately call these yearly trips a “man-venture” with the intention that we are just a bunch of guys looking to get away and spend some time together. Each year they serve as an unstructured retreat opportunity for myself, a time to disconnect from distractions, to reconnect with great friends, and a time to listen to God, others, and nature more closely. These trips help me re-center myself, typically they are an impetus for me to recall the important things in life and how I may have lost sight of those. For me, these trips are one of a few ways I try to use my “summer vacation” to re-prioritize, re-center, and re-focus prior to the upcoming academic year and returning to work in August.
I have a bad habit of getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life, which impedes my ability to acknowledge God’s presence with me throughout the day. I fall into the trap that Jesus describes in today’s Gospel reading of looking but never seeing, of hardly hearing with my ears and seeing with closed eyes. Tunnel-vision, distraction, call it what you will but the reality is that this failure on my part often causes me to take my relationship with God and all of God’s creation around me for granted. This propels me to base my own satisfaction, productivity, and success on what I can accomplish and produce rather than on the blessings God has given me and how I’ve embraced those whole-heartedly. In many ways I believe this is the sin that God describes to Jeremiah in today's first reading – of digging broken cisterns that hold no water and defiling the land for our own good rather than embracing what God has blessed us with and accepting those blessings as sacred.
Although I am consistently aware of this tendency to fail on a regular basis, its backpacking trips like my most recent one that help me slow down, take a deep breath, seek reconciliation, and reflect upon how I might be a better steward and disciple given the blessings God has given me. It’s those reflections that help me to grow and to share God’s presence with all those I encounter. Yes, I fail quite often and backpacking trips like this one aren’t always possible, hence one of my most recent brainstorms to explore how I might build moments and experiences for this continued reflection throughout the entire year – time to stare out a window, to admire the freshly mowed lawn, to share a meal with someone I don’t regularly, etc.
What might be the ways in your life you are taking God and/or God’s creation for granted? How have you embraced God and creation for what it is as sacred? What are some methods that might help you engage in these sacred blessings more often? How might you share these blessings with others as a disciple?
- Mike Bennett