By Clare Burns
CHRISTMAS 2014 was an unexpected joy – I found myself celebrating it with a lady I had been journeying with since September.
This lady has a number of physical and mental illnesses.
At times the journey has been a challenge, so I was delightfully surprised to experience a drama-free, peaceful Christmas.
Scratch beneath the surface and most of us could share a Christmas war-story, and while I was prepared for a crisis this year, there wasn’t one.
In a small way we had: “Let go and let God,” and found the words of the great English mystic Julian of Norwich (1342-1416) ring true: “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”
At the start of October this lady had begun ruminating over Christmas and building unrealistic expectations of what was going to happen.
Fortunately we were able to replace these unrealistic expectations with others that were positive, but different.
These realistic thoughts needed to be reinforced over and over again.
At times relaying the same positive message, delivered with a suitable level of alacrity, seemed exhaustive; now the efforts feel like a great investment – for both of us.
This lady has taught me the power of letting go and letting the “space” be occupied with another good.
It also led me James 4:3, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures”.
As I was taking stock of 2014 and setting goals for 2015 I needed to honestly look at what I was asking God for, consciously and subconsciously.
Many of my askings, particularly the subtle ones, sitting near the subconscious, would appear normal if the movies or even Facebook were the standard.
However, the reality is some of these wants aren’t realistic, nor are they good for me.
I, like the lady, was becoming complicit in subtle lies – lies which are not life-giving.
Why then would I want them to be 2015 goals – either written down or unchecked thoughts I just let run amok?
I’ve now reviewed my 2015 spiritual, career, physical, relationship and other goals.
For the most part I am happy with these – they are realistic, positive, challenging, flexible and life-giving.
That said, in the spirit of keeping it real I feel I need to close with a little disclaimer to all this attentiveness.
This is probably best summed up in the Woody Allen line: “Want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans”.
Still, the small yet present choleric part of me will continue in this endeavour – hopefully this time with a little more dancing and little less busyness than 2014.
Clare Burns is a Catholic from Melbourne studying in Brisbane.