Starting Point
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Issue Date:  April 29, 2005

Starting Point


Someone once told me that the big four causes of stress are death, marriage, divorce and moving. I can speak with some experience about moving. Trying to find a place to settle, I have moved from parish to parish, from town to town, from diocese to monastery and then from monastery to an apartment and then back to the monastery.

I remember lying in bed in the throes of the last, hopefully last, move.

Boxes were all over the place. Piles of paper had to be stepped over. Clothes hung everywhere. I had to get the stuff out of there, onto a truck, and back here, where I would sort it all out.

I lay staring at the whirring fan above me and thought about all this, as if the thinking would actually move things. I planned each coming day accordingly. Move this, make that call, return this item, visit the bank, post office, rental car place. All these things and more paraded through my mind. I weighed each seriously. It occurred to me that with all the thinking, not a thing moved in the apartment. My brain and the fan were the only things spinning.

Only when I engaged with the matter did the move materialize. Stuffing boxes and carrying them to the truck, hauling garbage bags down the stairs, making visits to places for “closure,” all came together to move me.

Thinking is one thing and doing is quite another. There is room for both in this world, but to get things on their way, engagement with them is necessary.

The church is moving, along with a world that is moving. Leadership, by and large, seems to be lying on its back, staring at the whirring fans. It is too bad. But it is their problem.

On a positive note, people have the keys to the belongings of faith. They are selecting what they need and are moving. They do not have the time or the luxury or the need to wait for the Grand Mover to come. That Being is in them and he/she does not wait for the dust to collect.

Fr. James Stephen Behrens is a monk at Monastery of the Holy Spirit, Conyers, Ga.

National Catholic Reporter, April 29, 2005

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