Some time ago, I came somehow to a deep conviction that worry is a waste of time. I say “somehow” because the realization came without effort from me. It was as if I had awakened from dreaming about someone and the person was standing in front of me. I hadn’t called or texted the person with an invitation. I hadn’t sent a plane ticket or a check for travel. The person had just appeared in the flesh, totally touchable and present. I have often tried not to worry about things: getting good grades, arriving to events on time, being well enough prepared for presentations, and the self-talk usually assuaged the nervousness somewhat at least. In the big issues: personal relationships and world poverty – not so much.
The moment of realization was like one of those lamps that lights up without a switch; it just has to be touched for the light to illumine the darkness. It’s not that I am not aware of things to be concerned about. I might say that I am even more engaged than before but my engagement is different now. I recognize what is before me (or happening in the larger world), I assess what my response needs to be and then I act accordingly. Don’t get me wrong; I am not inured to violence or terrible tragedy. I simply have a better grasp on what I can do about things and go about doing that, leaving the rest to God. It has truly been a gift in my life – the foundation of which is probably my practice of centering prayer.
I am grateful for this internal shift which is verified in the lectionary readings for today. The Letter to the Hebrews (10: 32-39) is reminding readers of times of suffering when they had endured and urges them not to “throw away your confidence” but rather to continue on and ultimately to receive what God has promised. In the gospel (MK 4), Jesus makes the comparison of the Reign of God to a farmer who scatters seed, sleeps and rises night and day, watching the seed sprout “he knows not how.” Of its own accord the land yields fruit. As is often the case for me, the psalm speaks the loudest message of how we are to work without forcing a result.
Put all your trust in God, on earth accomplish good; it will provide for you its richest food. Make God, as Lord and master, your delight and the desires of your whole heart God will fulfill. Give up your life to God and for the good of all, commit it to the One who acts for you, for God can take and make it shine with light, and bring you back to right-relationship in full. Grow still, be quiet, and wait patiently within, and in that silence put your trust in God…(PS 37: 3-7) Ancient Songs Sung Anew