By FATHER PAUL KEENAN
As we move from Lent to Easter, we do a lot of praying about the meaning of life. Here are some thoughts I have been having, some life lessons that I have discovered in my reflections.
1. Laughter and Tears Go Hand in Hand.
Life is serious, but it’s also true that we can take ourselves too seriously. When we’re tired or sick or frazzled, we often tend to focus on the hassles and if we’re not careful we can begin to act as though there were nothing else. Life has a way of wearing us down, if we let it. You may not be able to see the humor in your present situation, but never let yourself lose your ability to see humor.
2. Be a Storyteller.
It wasn’t until I wrote my first book, “Good News for Bad Days,” that I discovered the importance of stories. Well, not only their importance, but also their abundance. From beginning to end, our lives are stories, and so long as we can keep the stories flowing, we can stay lively and vibrant. Even if we’re at a point in life where we find it difficult to tell happy stories, we need to keep the stories coming. When we let the stories stop, something inside us stops flowing as well.
3. The World Does Not Have to Stay as It Is.
The idea of our changing the world may seem preposterous. But each of us every day has the opportunity to make a decision as to what energy, what words, what beliefs, what actions he or she will release into the world. We do not have much control over what others do, but we do have control over what we think and what we do. The power lies within.
4. Angels Abound.
I believe in angels, and I think they are an important part of life. Who are they? The traditional definition is that they are messengers of God, creatures to whom God turns when he wants to get something across to us. When we think of angels, we think of radiant beings with wings. I often think of angels as thoughts or impulses that tell me things are not as grim as I imagine them to be. What makes the right person come into my life at the right moment and say just the right thing? Why is my favorite song playing on the radio just when I feel down? Why do I go to the bookstore and there on the table in front of me discover the next book I need to read? Why, in my darkest hour, do the words, “I am with you” explode in my head? I like to think that life is an ongoing communication with God. And so, I believe in angels.
5. There Is a God and He Loves Us.
It seems to me that people are having trouble believing in God. What we need, in order to find God, is a positive sense of mystery. We have plenty of the negative sense of mystery-“Life’s a mystery to me; it’s too overwhelming to figure out.” But mystery is a positive thing, and in its positive meaning its synonym is “wonder.” When we are sufficiently overwhelmed by life, we have the ability to step back and to wonder at the course of events. When we wonder at and about the course of events, we allow ourselves to slip into the realm of thought that holds that perhaps what we see before us is not the whole picture. Perhaps there is something we do not yet know, a perspective we have not yet thought of? Perhaps there is a truth that is beyond our comprehension? I believe that life teaches us lessons, and the greatest lesson of all is that there is a Supreme Being who enfolds the mystery of our stories into the mystery of his story.