We spend the early years of infancy and childhood learning and adapting to the family within which we have been born, the people in our lives, and basically figure out how to please and grow within these systems. In our maturing years we strike out to differentiate ourselves and claim our independence of “being” within these systems and the others within which we find ourselves thrust. And in our early adult years stretching well into our middle-age, we seek to establish ourselves, be “successful,” make our mark in our chosen life’s work, family, and leave a legacy. Then, we come into what I have discovered is a wonderful time of grace, and if we are both intentional and fortunate, love.
I am not sure how it possibly can be 2021, that I have been married for 38 years, have three children and five grandchildren, and have been a priest for 35 years. Yet, all of this is true. What I have come though to deeply appreciate is that in these present years I no longer seek to be successful or make a name for myself, but rather ask the questions and seek to live the questions of how may I serve, and how may I love those entrusted to my care and those whom I encounter.
All of the earlier machinations of our life’s journey are both important and necessary. We are born to such a noble cause and calling. And yet, when all is said and done, when we have both accomplished and been disappointed along the way, we all, if we are aware and willing to acknowledge, arrive in the same place. That is to say, that in the final analysis what matters most is how we have served and how we have loved in this seemingly short span of years that we have been granted.
In my early years of priesthood and training as a pastoral counselor in Atlanta, the therapist who I saw for supervision every other week, had a framed needlepoint of the poet, Robert Frost, hanging in his office. Every time I sat in his office those words loomed large and rang true: “We dance round in a ring and suppose, But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.”
And at this point in my life, I finally know the secret; it is to serve…it is to love…for me, like Jesus. The pull of God from the first steps that we take as a baby…the pull of the universe…the Circle of Life is to serve and Love. What better legacy can you leave…? I seek now to serve and make a difference for the kingdom of God in this time and place…