November 2010

Fr. Antony Portrait
Photo Courtesy of Photographer Eric Limon

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Glory to Jesus Christ!  Glory forever!

Do you know how a baby chicken is born?  The baby chicken still inside its eggshell discovers that the shell is too small and confining.  It has become uncomfortable, so the chick begins to tap the shell with its beak in an attempt to break free.  From outside the shell the mother hen hears the sound of tapping and she begins to use her beak to tap against the shell.  Eventually, the cooperation pays off and, voila!  The baby chick emerges and all is well.

The same thing can happen to us.  The pressures of life weigh down on us so much sometimes that we are not at all sure what to do.  Anxiety and depression are rampant diseases in our society and I am sure many of us here know about it from personal experience.  I do.  When things seem to become too difficult, it might be helpful to see those moments as the baby chick does its shell.  We can break free.  Maybe not of the circumstance, but most certainly of our response to it!  I would like to offer a suggestion for how we might break free of our shells.

If we are honest, we see sooner or later that the pressures we feel are coming from inside us.  Sometimes the events around us seem out of control.  What do we do?  We worry!  Even when there is nothing we can do, we worry.  When the circumstances are somewhat controllable, what do we do?  We worry!  It doesn’t matter which is true, we still worry!  How silly it is.

Even when the circumstances around us are peaceful and untroubled we still carry a great burden.  Where does it come from?  From within, from a troubled mind, troubled thoughts, fears, concerns, anxieties about the past or about the future, rather than from anything happening outside of us, at least most of the time.  We feel trapped, like a baby chick inside its shell.

Think for a minute.  In this present moment as you sit together and listen (maybe) to this little talk, is there anything wrong?  Right now, we must say no, not really.  Most moments in life are like this one, rather benign and neutral in nature.  But what happens?  We drag into this perfectly benign moment either negative or positive thoughts.  What did you bring with you today?  A basketful of worries or a basketful of hope?  Whichever it is, that is what will make or break this moment, if you let it!  And remember folks, no matter how young we are or old we are, we only have moments left.  Each one is precious and new and is meant to be savored.  Each present moment is life as it really is.  Recognizing that truth, we begin to come alive.  And the tapping begins in earnest.

Jesus said about the past, “Let the dead bury the dead.”  About the future He said, “Don’t worry about tomorrow.”  About the present moment He said one thing, “Follow me.”  We can only follow Christ if we are alive and awake to the present moment.  Free of the concerns of the past and the future we become like the wind as St. John tells us in his Gospel.  God is like the wind, blowing wherever He wishes.  If we are to follow Him, then we must become free like Him.  Living fully in each present moment is the path to an untethered, and thus, a truly Christian life, a life of flowing with the Spirit of God wherever He goes.

I suggest that instead of allowing the past or the future to color our present moments, we focus as much as we can on the present.  Try it and see.  You will find peace in letting go and living in the present.  Don’t interpret, just observe.  At this very moment, there is nothing wrong at all.  Why not embrace that truth and live in reality rather than hold on to what has already happened or what has yet to happen?  Those are fantasies.  This moment is real. 

The truth is that God is always near, right now, as we live and breathe, in the present moment, the only moment there really is.  How much we miss when we fail to recognize that. 

When we finally tap ourselves out of our discomforting shells, our dreams and fantasies and all the things that contribute to our unease, things we call sin, which is a very broad term indeed, we will discover that God, noticing the sound of our tapping, has already begun to tap from the outside. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock,” could also be said like this, “Behold I stand outside your shell and tap!”  Lo and behold!  Our small efforts joined with His great love, sets us free!

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Antony