Just a Thought…
When I was in the seminary I had a pretty good spiritual director who, after a period of some silence in our conversation would gently and inquisitively ask me in appropriate Chicago slang (to get the conversation rolling again), “so whatcha thinkin?” Not a real unique line, I know. And I am sure we have all been asked the same thing: so what you are thinking? It is not a question about intellect, but about spirit.
So here we are on the fifth Sunday of Lent, better than halfway to Easter, and I cannot help but ask myself, and you too, the same question from my spiritual director: so whatcha thinkin? It has been almost five weeks since Ash Wednesday when we launched this season of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving — with a little St. Patrick’s Day thrown in between — and I guess I find myself checking in with my soul to see if it is any different or perhaps even more alive. As we have heard these past weeks in those long Gospel stories from St. John with the Woman at the Well and the Man Born Blind, “making sense” of spirituality and where God is calling us is never easy. It takes work; sometimes hard work.
I admittedly find myself asking an even more challenging question in light of our Lenten Speaker Series. (We still have one more powerful presentation to go with Eboo Patel this Wednesday, April 13 at 7 p.m. You don’t want to miss this guy, trust me.) I realize not everyone reading this column has been able to attend the past three weeks of our Lenten Speaker Series. But regardless of your attendance or not, as I reflect upon and continue to digest the powerful, impassioned words of Greg Boyle, Avis Clendenen, and Mike Pfleger, I am asking a follow-up question that also engages my soul: so, now what? Perhaps I am writing this one week prematurely because we are still awaiting Eboo Patel’s powerful witness, but my mind and my heart are racing a bit and thinking: where do we go from here?
Being moved by stories about “kinship” and breaking down the borders that divide us as a human community; helping especially the disadvantaged feel the worth of their soul; listening to a most powerful, almost torturous self-reflection of forgiveness; being challenged to care for each other, to stand up for justice and a kid’s right to education and to a society freed from the violence. These were major themes and potent messages spoken to us. After Fr. Pfleger’s talk, I couldn’t help but feel: we’ve got work to do!
And so, on this fifth Sunday of Lent, without a lot of clear direction and without extensively working this out in my mind or my soul, I’m just wondering: whatcha thinkin? Now what? How do we not allow these “all star” preachers to just give us some nice, well crafted talks, but more importantly a clearer vision for how we want to continue creating a challenging, “dangerous” (Pfleger’s word) experience of church? I will be interested to know where this all takes us.
See you Wednesday, April 13 at 7 p.m.
Fr. Tom Hurley