Brothers and sisters, Hebrews often begins, and the second reading tonight is no different. The assembly is listening as Paul speaks, encouraging us to remember that we are not alone, but surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. We are running a race that requires perseverance and to run it we must drop our suitcases and all that weighs us down. We must shrug off the sin that desires our defeat. It is Jesus, the perfecter of our faith, who knows best our struggles, the weight of our cross light compared to the one he dragged through the streets to the hill of Calvary. He suffered so that we may be free and longs for us to not grow weary or discouraged on our path. We must look to Jesus for Light on our our way.
In the first reading, the misunderstood prophet Jeremiah is thrown into a cistern, where he sank into the mud. Through the intervention of an Ethiopian who reports the incident to the king, Jeremiah is saved. We are not alone, brothers and sisters, in our trials. Jesus sends other witnesses to help us run if we keep our eyes on him. Psalm 40 tells us that the Lord will draw us up from the desolate pit and set our feet upon solid rock.
Every time I return home from a trip, I feel a certain relief to be back into routine–to sleep in my own bed, to shower quietly where I usually spend some time in prayer, to dance to the music as I prepare my breakfast, and to return to family and friends. Don’t misunderstand–I love to travel, but I also am grateful for my life here. I am looking forward to staying home for a bit before my next journey. I want to be somewhat selfish with this week so that I am rested when I next depart. I want to keep my eyes on Jesus for these next few days, without too many distractions. I am cognizant that at some point I may need to bend down and tighten my running shoes for this race. Certain things will have to occur over the next few months and it is time to drop some of the excess baggage that I have been dragging around.
I need eagle eyes to look at my life in the next few weeks, discerning where best to put my energies and my time. I have an agenda that is non-negotiable and I will have to learn how to best carry that cross until certain events like decluttering, downsizing, moving, and a couple of projects are done. Some days I stand on shifting sand instead of solid rock, unable to tell acquaintances that I am cannot see them but I think I am scrambling up the rock since my time away. I am learning some hard lessons about boundaries and I know not everyone will accept them gracefully. I sink in the mud that I have jumped into on my own accord but maybe if I look to Jesus I may learn from the Master how important alone time is. The bulk of my mandatory travels are over. What remains is mostly a wish list. This means I can hunker down and get a few things done. I look forward to that.
I will depend on my great cloud of witnesses aka friends to help me find my way on setting new boundaries and helping me with some necessary tasks. I do not want this path to have so much internal angst on it regarding my schedule. When I do my Examen at night, I want to look back over my day and know that my time was spent on God’s purpose for me, not on pleasing others. When I look ahead to the day that is coming, I do not want to experience stress regarding the decisions I must make for how best to use my time. Looking so well elicits a lack of understanding from people as they cannot see that my energy is not what it used to be. I think boundaries will be the life lesson I will study intensely in the coming months. It is never too late to learn a new skill.
What life lesson do you need to keep your eyes on Jesus to learn?
Are you standing on shifting sands or solid rock?
Sands shift, O God, but you set me on solid ground, pulling me out of the mire and confusion to rescue me. We pick up crosses that are not ours to carry. Help us to drop them and run the race you desire for us, free of the burdens that are not meant for us in the first place. Remove the sins that bind us to unhealthy decisions and habits and create a new way for us. Amen.