Starting Point
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Issue Date:  April 7, 2006

Starting Point


Early morning. I am in my room, bedroom, prayer room, work room. This one room fits all. It is cluttered with books here and papers there.

My counselor once said you can tell a lot about what a person thinks about himself when you take a look at his rooms.

If that’s true, my life must be a clutter. But I think to myself, “As long as my clothes are clean and I keep most of my straying thoughts to myself, we shall function quite nicely.” I am presiding at a Mass for middle-school children today. I want it to be a good experience for them.

I want to look at them with loving respect. I want to share the space with them so that they feel that this sacred space is theirs. I want to let God shine through me so that they will understand that God loves them.

Yesterday I put together the few words I want to share with them. This morning I need time just to empty myself, to relax, to think about everything else but the Mass so that I won’t get anxious.

When I get anxious, I miss the nuances of what is going on around me, the ups and downs that people show in their eyes, their posture, their presence. I miss what is going on in me. Am I focused or distracted? Is the glass half-full or half-empty for me today? Do I feel secure, comfortable, loved?

I breathe in and out. I thank the Lord for giving me one more day to enjoy God’s bright, bird-singing, flower-blooming morning. Then I grab my alb, and head on over to the church.

Fr. Joseph McGowan is a member of the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus.

National Catholic Reporter, April 7, 2006

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