Monday, February 21, 2011


I have to admit at the outset that this photo really bears little connection with what I'm writing today. Here in western Oregon's Willamette Valley, we're expecting a wintery blast to arrive mid-week. As I'm finally (almost) recovered from a bad case of pneumonia picked-up over Christmas in Texas, I'm actually looking forward to playing in the snow with the kids. Some of my fondest memories are associated with snow, so I'm hoping that the valley will soon be covered in a white blanket. (This photo was taken some years ago at Silver Falls.)

Towards the end of Mass yesterday morning, a child somewhere in the congregation yelled "Mine!" with surprising force. When the church is hushed for a moment, it's amazing how much attention one little voice can bring. The child reminded me that, in a sense, we're all in danger of saying the same word internally. Is there really that much a difference between a child and an adult? We all have things we're reluctant to surrender to the Lord.

Like the child, we might as well be calling out "Mine!" ourselves. Whether it's possessions, time, attitudes, the need to place a spouse's needs ahead of our own perceived needs, or something else close to our hearts, we often try to tell God what our boundaries are. We're only comfortable going so far, we explain. As that child was beginning to perhaps recognize, learning how to give or surrender things important to us can be hard work.

Recently, someone I know did something particularly giving and heartfelt for a stranger in need. Was my first reaction to compliment the selfless gift? No, it was to critique the practical nature of the act. Without pausing to reflect on what I was saying, I downplayed the action on the basis that the person in need might not be authentic. For me personally, I think I need to surrender a critical mindset at times when it comes to acts of selfless charity in particular.

It may be a cliche, but we can't expect to receive from God until our hands are opened first in the act of giving, placing His will above our own. Instead of "mine," let's pray to say simply "Yours."

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