A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Staying Both Anchored and Nimble

By Fr Kevin Bates SM

Watching young people at play or at sports’ training, reminds me of times past when I could run, jump, kick a footy, bowl a reasonable leg-break and hit a fair forehand – not all at once of course! The athletic flexibility of young people is a joyful gift and I often pray for them that it lasts as long as possible.

Along with getting a bit older, muscles tighten up, energy diminishes and eyesight dims. Our body becomes less flexible and less willing to do what we ask of it. Of the flexible self we once knew we can only dream!

We don’t need reminding that today’s world is fast-changing and even day-to-day plans need to be re-arranged at short notice. The AFL and Rugby League administrations are learning that lesson and are responding with real skill and dexterity as are many government, sporting and business organisations.

Staying flexible is so necessary in this current climate in so many fields of human endeavour.

There’s definitely a cost involved as often I have to leave behind well-worn paths, programmes or procedures and move away from what has been comfortable and predictable. This is much easier to write about than to embody!

In today’s world, health, survival and good order require that we be nimble and quick on our feet if you like, in order to respond and manage the changing world around us.

Being so nimble, we may run the risk of losing our balance and lose contact with the fundamentals we need to keep us grounded in our basic identity as human and Christian. We can end up being like the person who declares: “I have my principles but if you don’t like them I have some other ones!!”

So how are we to hold our balance and keep our reflexes alert enough to cope with this rapidly changing environment of ours?

Deep in the memory of our faith story, we know the answer. We have within and among us the breath of the Spirit of God who is Love, unchanging and utterly faithful. The problem at our end of the relationship can be that we get so busy, rattled by the complexity and uncertainty of life in the real world, that we can easily forget to breathe with this holy, sustaining Spirit.

It’s then that our flexible self can fall over, get out of balance and lack the foundation and the direction we long for.

Being mindful of the presence of this Spirit is a start, but we really need to do better than just being mindful. We will only find the peace we need if we are actively engaged.

In daily conversation, communion, contemplation with God’s own breath, we can start to find our feet again and our way forward. In other words, we pray!!

It’s not as hard or as time-consuming as we might imagine. With the habit of a little morning or evening prayer, everything else becomes a sacrament of God’s presence. We come to recognise God at work in every situation and even if we just respond with a knowing look, smile or wink, this habit of prayerful encounter provides the groundwork for peace and purpose.

While we will no doubt still feel buffeted by the frequent changes required of us as the world lurches from crisis to crisis, from pandemic to health and back again, our feet will be well-grounded and our hearts can still beat with hope.

Anchored in God’s delightful, sustaining company, we will be well equipped to leap, change direction and move where we must without fear or hesitation.

God is both the still point of all creation and the source of all our creativity. The One sitting on the heavenly throne in the Book of Revelation declares: “Behold I am making all things new!” (Revelations 21:5).

While we sweat, worry and jostle our way into the future, you’d have to admit we are in pretty good hands!  

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