Betty Duffy

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Sun Was Out This Morning

Listen my faithful children: open up your petals,
like roses planted near running waters;
send up the sweet odor of incense,
break forth in blossoms like the lily.
Send up the sweet odor of your hymn of praise;
bless the Lord for all he has done!

(Sirach 39)

January, it seems, will end. Between sickness and snow, we have barely left our house for the month--and I must confess I've been a little batty--batty in the way that inspires people to make whispered confessions of depression. The blogosphere is awash with such revelations. And the Catholic blogosphere in particular, has gone demon crazy, I can't help noticing--possibly in anticipation of the release of yet another Exorcism movie. Possibly because we are all holding our breath until the sun comes out, and when you're short on sun and oxygen, you start to hear voices saying, "This is stupid. Everything you do is stupid. The food you eat, how you spend your money, the places you go, and the things you pray for, they're all stupid."

If you convince yourself of the stupidity of your occupations, you might start to think there's no mercy for you. You might imagine that the only company you keep throughout the day is a wicked little devil whose sole delight is your despair. You might decide not to get out of bed one day, not to get dressed--and you'll hate yourself for it. And before you know it a month has passed without a benediction from you. What a life….What a life. Right?

And then one morning, all of that is behind you, for reasons that are totally beyond your comprehension. The chemical alarm has sounded--Wake up, Stupid One! Today, you are going to fall in love! And you put on your shoes, thinking, "I am going for a walk." It's a small step.

It's morning. The sun is out for just a minute. Normally, you miss it. But this morning, the way the early rays illuminate the mist of evaporating snow makes you want to praise God. What's this? Praise? I don't know how to praise. My specialty is groveling. Mine is the psalm of lamentation. But sure enough, a prayer is taking shape--and it's not of my fashioning. It's a hymn.

It occurs to you that a life of solitude and contemplation has been the battlefield of Saints throughout history--that the spoils of war are often delicate and invisible victories. And God calls truce. Only God.

If one feels trapped by the burdens of consumerism, drawn into the cycles of a ridiculous culture, if one feels superfluous because of the ease of modern life, and still overwhelmed by the magnitude of life's stakes--it's ok to to believe that existence is not yet stupid. You might wish to plug your ears and tra-la-la your way to death like the pagans, but something tells you that your life, your children's lives are still important enough to shepherd differently--and this is the particular conflict that God has designed for you. There is nothing stupid about it.

Praise God! Praise Him for the revelation of mission. Praise Him for the blessing of even transient beauties. Praise Him for the lifting of oppression. Praise God for the Communion of Saints, for the prayers of the Church--and for the the gift of praise itself.


Tamara @ Living Palm said...

this post is a gift to me today. thank you.

Lizzie said...

Amen Amen. Thank you - I needed this...

Francesca said...

Are you hiding behind my couch? Thank you a million times. This might be one of the most beautiful things I've ever read.

wifemotherexpletive said...


Tari said...

Praise Him for all those things, indeed!!

Anne said...


Living for the Lord in 2011 said...

Praise God from whom all blessings flow...
I think you just inspired my next post!