With Franciscan Eyes

Holding on to Hope

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“The New Year is a painting not yet painted; a path not yet stepped on; a wing not yet taken off!
Things haven’t happened as yet! Remember that you are blessed with the ability to reshape your life!”

―Mehmet Murat Ildan

This is a powerful quote comparing the New Year to a painting, a path, and a wing. As I reflected on this, it brought to mind what will happen under the guidance of the Holy Spirit during the Chapter. Hopefully, our painting will be a masterpiece, our path will become known, and our wings will allow us to fly into our future! God is good and as scary as the unknown future and reshaping our life can be, God is with us throughout our painting, path finding and taking off, all in God’s name.

Every New Year begins with the hope that it will be better than the year before and as the year goes on that hope seems to wax and wane like the moon. It does not have to happen that way. We need to remember God is with and within us This gives us the grace to let go of our concerns and let God be in charge. Our entire world needs to choose this path to put an end to war, hunger, poverty, hatred, etc. It needs to be mindful of God’s love and care for us. In 1965 there was a song that was not only appropriate back then, but for the present and future!  Remember “What the World Needs Now”? The song begins: “What the world needs now is love, sweet love… It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.” Other words in the song address the Lord saying we don’t need any more mountains, or rivers, etc. but what we need is LOVE. May we be God’s instruments of love in our wounded world!


It's Now or Never

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“It’s now or never” goes a song popular many years ago. Just those few words seem like an interesting mantra as we swing into 2024. A common practice is to look back on the old year and recall all that happened over the past 365 days—the good, the challenging, and the not-so-good.  And, of course, looking ahead, there are those New Year’s resolutions that seem to collapse on themselves in no time.

So, this year, what if we took a different view and focused on the NOW. Josh Baran in his book entitled, The Tao of Now: Daily Wisdom from Mystics, Sages, Poets, and Saints, offers some insightful word-bites that can shake us into a clearer understanding of why living in the now makes perfect sense:

  • Wherever you are is the sacred place.
  • Were you planning to wait for tomorrow to be alive?
  • People often say, “Life is passing me by.  How is this possible with life always unfolding in this precise instant?
  • You are always Here. Where else could you be? What a relief.
  • Finally, it has penetrated my thick skull. This life—this moment—is no dress rehearsal.  This is it.
  • Listen to your life. All moments are key moments.
  • What are you waiting for?
  • Fill in the blank: “I will be happy when ______.” Really?

Even Albert Einstein weighs in on the value of now: “There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Pearl Bailey is attributed with saying, “People see God every day; they just don’t recognize him.” And of course, in the Book of Exodus we’re to simply look down: “Take off your shoes. The ground where you stand is holy ground.”

Famous Brother Lawrence of the 17th century offers us a prayerful approach to being in the now through the practice of the Presence of God. He writes: “Make a sacred and intentional decision now, never to leave God willingly, and to live the rest of your life in this holy presence…. Start where you are. Do your best.” I was especially consoled by his words to those of us in our “mature” years: “Practice the presence diligently in your last days. Better late than never.”

So, as we step into this new year, perhaps we can be aware of what is happening right NOW and keep it simple. God is here. It’s a miracle. This is it! Happy New Year!