A Delicate Balance

After being in Haiti for a week working on the development of the Santa Chiara Children’s Center I’ve been so busy digging out from the pile of mail that arrived during my absence that I have not had the time to pen a new posting for today. So I’m dipping into something written a few years ago that deals with the subject of over busyness. I published the following on my blog on August 2, 2013; it was included in an unpublished book titled Mysticism and Mercy: Reflections from Along Poverty Road.

Whenever things in my personal life turned sour during the last eighteen years it could be mostly blamed on my failure to maintain the delicate balance between contemplation and action. How stupid it was of me to think that “my” work on behalf of the poor was more important than tending to my own inner poverty.

First, it was never “my” work; it was work given to me by God. I was doing God’s work. And to perform at the highest level of effectiveness I needed to have the work be more fully rooted in the grace of God. It seemed the more my former ministry grew in size, the more I erroneously felt it was dependent on my tireless effort in order to sustain the growth. Whenever I became truly exhausted by the effort, I too frequently succumbed to my weaknesses instead of nourishing myself on the bounty of God’s tender love and endless compassion. The demands of the ministry were overwhelming. Yet I didn’t need to carry that burden by myself…or think it all depended upon me. No film, no book is going to save the world. Only love will save the world. What I did on behalf of the poor – and what I am doing – is not that important, nor will it make much of a difference. But God’s work is not subject to a cost-benefit analysis; it freely gives itself away without counting the cost or expecting a reward.

My books and films, all rooted in Franciscan spirituality, no matter how many people they have deeply touched, are irrelevant unless they becomes more real inside of me and it continues to be written afresh in my heart. As I penned these humble, stumbling words, I realized I knew a lot about the life and spirituality of St. Francis. Big deal. What’s important is that after eighteen years of immersion into the Franciscan charism I have not yet allowed the saint’s insights to truly enter deeply into my being and radically transform who I am; instead, I tinkered around the edges. It really does not matter if I write another book or make another film. The only thing that matters is that I surrender my heart more fully to God…and begin to really love. All the words and images in the world are all but useless if they are not animated by the Word that speaks of evolving life and increasing love.

Don’t look to me for answer—I don’t know anything.


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