Cimply Putting It…
Busy month ahead? Try being amplius! The story is told that one day Michelangelo, the great Italian sculptor, painter, architect, and poet, entered his studio that was full of prospective artists. He examined the canvases of his pupils. A few he complimented. He advised some to keep their day jobs. Finally he came to his star disciple. The man was working on a small canvas. Across the picture, he wrote the Latin word “amplius”. It means “larger”. The maestro felt his pupil was playing it safe. He was not working up to his capacity. He wanted him to start all over again.
It’s a new month—and from what I hear from many of you, it is a busy month. There are lots of things to go to and to get done—graduations, weddings, Mother’s Day, etc. Many people have felt it: felt the strain of life that is a whir of activity, the tension of countless jobs piled on one another, the exhaustion of going to bed without having had a real break during the day to allow oneself to relax and clear one’s mind of all the concerns, plans, worries, and things to be done.
I don’t know why the pace of life seems to have accelerated beyond that which we normally experience when the snow finally melts and the grass begins to green. Whatever the reason may be for all the hustle and bustle, it does seem to be a reality that we are pretty busy.
Sometimes this sort of feeling can enter into our spiritual and religious lives. We can look at our worship and involvement in our Church as being simply another bunch of things that we have to get done. It is not only young people that tell me that they are just too busy to even fit in going to Church, but folks of all ages sometimes express that concern to me.
I know that sometimes coming to Church can give us the feeling that we even have more work to do. I have to pray more, volunteer for this or that, or get involved in a Bible study.
One time in a discussion about the pace of life, a retreat director told me the Chinese proverb that tells the story of a fox that was captured by a tiger. The fox said, “You can’t eat me because the gods have made me the leader of all the animals.” The tiger did not believe the fox, but the fox said, “Follow me and see if any animal challenges me.” The tiger agreed to this and followed directly behind the fox as the fox begin his walk through the forest. To the tiger’s amazement it turned out to be exactly as the fox had said. Not a single animal they encountered challenged the fox. Indeed every animal they met fled in sheer panic. After several such encounters, the tiger finally agreed that the fox was the leader of all the animals and let him go. The moral of the proverb is: it is easy to remove obstacles that oppose us when we have a tiger behind us.
Truly there are many obstacles and dangers in our lives, and there are many drains upon our energies. We do have lots of things to get done. Alone—we can be overwhelmed by them. But the good news is that we are not alone. God is with us on every step of our journey.
Scientists tell us that we leave this world with large portions of our brains woefully undeveloped. The same may be true of our spirits. Spiritually we are capable of being more interesting Christians than we are. Had we the chutzpa, we could become spiritual masterpieces. Jesus is probably tempted to write the word “amplius” over our lives. Our spiritual canvases are too small. We are capable of much more in our spiritual lives.
It is so easy for us to be too busy. We get tired out and find ourselves hungering for peace. But God, for some reason or another, has led you here today. Here you will find again, food for your journey. Here there is what your spirit needs—a time of rest, a time of strengthening in the presence of the Lord, and God’s people.
Once there was a woman whose happiness was shattered by the loss of her brother. Torn by anguish, she kept asking God, “Why?” But hearing only silence, she set out in search of an answer. She came upon an old man sitting on a bench. He was crying. He said, “I have suffered a great loss. I am a painter and I have lost my eyesight.” He too was seeking an answer to the question, “Why?” He took the woman by the arm and walked with her. They found a young man walking aimlessly. He had just lost his wife to another man. He joined them in their search of an answer to the “Why?” question. Shortly they came upon a young mother who lost her baby. She joined them, but still no answer. Suddenly they came upon Christ. Each confronted Him with their question. But Christ gave no answer. Instead, Christ began to cry. He said, “I am bearing the burden of a woman who lost a brother, a girl whose baby has died, a painter who has lost his eyesight, and a young man who has lost the love of his life.” As Christ spoke, the four moved closer and embraced each other. Christ spoke again saying, “I cannot prevent pain, I can only heal it.” “How?” asked the woman. “By sharing it,” Christ said.
Yes it is a busy time of year, and much, if not all of what we are doing needs doing, but these busy times need not drain us.
We thank you God, that when we wander, you seek us out; that when we stumble and fall, you lift us up; and when we feel lost you call us by name.
Thank you God for writing “amplius” on our canvas when we think we are getting too busy. It reminds us that you love us and want us to feel that love from you.
Make it a great week. clc