If you’ve followed this blog for a while you’ll probably recognize the name of Father Mark. He was the priest who has had one of the most significant impacts in my spirituality and I am so thankful to have gotten to know him. Occasionally when he had a particularly wonderful homily I’d email him and ask for a copy. The last homily Father Mark gave at our church is something that I hold dearly in my heart as it’s a wonderful roadmap to living life the right way.
He wrote it in the format of a Top 10 list of things to remember and there were two points from that last homily that kept ringing in my head today during a few different conversations.
#3: The central stage direction of the gospel is downward mobility … making yourself smaller, making a gift of yourself. In the end your life is not about you.
One of my mentors pointed out how impressed he was with a specific task that I was very much pumped up about and took action on with a high sense of urgency. As he made sure I had taken notice of just how quickly I had acted and why he suggested I consider taking some time to contemplate why I had gone after this project with this level of intensity. My answer was simple, it wasn’t about me. After I snapped off my answer I paused and smiled.
When I think about some of the things I’ve taken on that have brought me the most joy the majority seem to have something in common… they were focused on helping other people. This seems to fit pretty well with what I’m starting to see as the legacy I am meant to leave: to live a joyful life and share that joy with others.
Sharing joy with others is an incredible feeling and a wonderful motivator. As many of our speakers discussed this past week, it’s easier to do the difficult things, challenge ourselves, and accomplish the impossible when the end game is helping others have joy.
The interesting thing though is that there’s the other half of that coin… to live a joyful life. Doesn’t that contradict the focus on others? Cue the second point of Father Mark’s last homily that was in my head today…
#2: If you would be a river, you must be a reservoir. Don’t even try the downward mobility thing I just mentioned until you have learned how to let God fill you up.
If we want to help others be joyful we have to first push ourselves to live a joyful life. My attempts at bringing others happiness will fall flat if I haven’t figured out how to do that for myself first. Taking time to re-charge the emotional batteries is a necessity. For me it’s moments like Saturday when I put in my headphones and walk alone to take time to think. It’s in the moments when I’m blogging each day to remember to be grateful for all the blessings I have in my life.
Today there were several times in which I was able to help other people out specifically because I’d taken the time to re-charge my batteries. In some cases I was able to help show them how flat my forehead was from repeatedly banging it against the wall.
Throughout the day I’ve been smiling as both of these thoughts have been pinging back in forth in my brain. When I stop and think about it, it’s wonderful catch-22. I am happiest when I am doing something for others, and I am able to do more for others when I bring myself happiness. It seems like a beautiful upward spiral, doesn’t it? Be joyful, share that joy with others, be more joyful, share even more joy with others, and so on and so on… I am starting to see it as a bit of a challenge, how high can this elevator go?
Father Mark’s last homily was almost five years ago, but it still enters my thought process often. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to have gotten to know him and for his wonderful advice.