June 2006

Dear brothers and sisters,

For the last few days, as I thought about what I should write this month, this phrase from Psalm 90 kept running through my head:

Make us know the shortness of our life that we may gain wisdom of heart.

This may seem like an odd reflection when spring is turning into summer, the days are at their longest, and even when we have a dark, overcast day, we can appreciate the rain knowing that it will be sunny again soon. It is prompted more by learning of the death of the son of our National Secretary Ö who, at age 47, was younger than me when he collapsed and died. I am also thinking about the funeral we attended a week ago, of a 51-year-old woman who was struck down by an aggressive cancer. Many of those who spoke at her service observed that based on what she had accomplished in her life, it could hardly be considered untimely in the sense that she had lived a full life and accomplished a great deal. It behooves all of us to bear fruit whenever we have the opportunity, and not put it off until "next time" Ö there may not be a next time.

In contrast, my mother is spending her 82nd birthday this week practically living at her church, as overall coordinator of a major community outreach happening this week. She has taken on a leadership role that sheís never had before, and while she says, "Never again," all she means is that she will work for someone else next time instead of being in charge! We need to know the shortness of our life, but we mustnít fall into the other trap of thinking that because weíve reached a certain stage in our life, weíre finished bearing fruit. God very likely has other plans!

So, we need wisdom of heart to recognize what God has in store for us Ö and to be as cooperative as we can. My impression is that there are many Franciscans, secular and otherwise, who are comfortable with "going with the flow" and just doing what makes sense NOW. That is a great gift, in many ways, and very reminiscent of our father Francis, but it sure isnít MY gift! My husband likes to remind me how upset I used to get when plans didnít go as planned. About all I can say in my own defense is that Iím better than I used to be!

Despite my desire for things to go as Iíve planned, I realize that, paradoxically, some of the most important decisions in my life were made without much planning; they were just the right thing to do and I knew it. For instance, I had never considered becoming Catholic, but when the time was right, I knew it was right, and three months later I was receiving my first Communion at Easter Vigil. I firmly believe that God works with my nature - impatient, stubborn, set on how I think things should go - and keeps gently pointing out to me that the Spirit works wonders I couldnít have planned Ö when I let Him have room to work. I learn slowly, but I DO learn!

So, I pray that the Spirit will work in all of our hearts to bring us wisdom to appreciate our span of life, however long or short it may be, to recognize the opportunities that still lie before us, and to give us the grace we need to bear much fruit. As Psalm 90 ends:

May the favor of the Lord be upon us, Give success to the work of our hands, Give success to the work of our hands.

Peace and all good, Vickie