Each day hype infiltrates and saturates our waking moments, perhaps even encroaching upon our nocturnal dreams. Insidious in nature, hype inflates our expectations, programming us to expect quick and easy success, be it in losing weight, getting rich quick, moving ahead professionally in one fell swoop, or the ubiquitous weekend seminar promising us transformation.
Follow hype long enough, and soon you'll feel deflated, cause there's little substance (truth) to it. Worse yet, you may become cynical, doubt yourself (my particular Achilles heel), or just give up on something worth pursuing.
Yesterday I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Truth does that for you. I was reading a selection out of Fr. Matthew Kelty's book, Gethsemani Homilies. I'll get to that in a moment, but first let me tell you about Fr. Kelty.
I had the pleasure of meeting him on several occasions when I made self-directed retreats at the Abbey at Gethsemani in Kentucky during the 1990's. At the time, Fr. Kelty, a Cistercian monk, was in his 80's. He's now 90 years young and he really rocks! Many years ago he was a novice under Thomas Merton, and later became Thomas Merton's confessor.
Fr. Kelty, an Irish Bostonian, spent 10 years as a hermit in New Guinea, where he rode motorcycles as a monk. It's been said that he has a " . . . keen nose for detecting pious cant." I agree. His homilies are down to earth, poetic, and reflect his deep love of God. Unlike much of the Catholic hierarchy, he values and loves women as people. (Not to exclude men - he loves them too). Bless you, Fr. Kelty!
Okay, back to the selection of reading that triggered this topic. That huge sigh of relief I exhaled. When something rings true for me, I feel it in my heart. And so it was with Fr. Kelty's homily on "Taking Up the Cross."
He opened the homily by telling a story of an Olympic athlete who sacrificed and disciplined himself for years, day in and day out, to win his medals. Fr. Kelty contrasted that with the seeking of love. To paraphrase, we expect that in seeking love we should encounter no difficulty, nor require demanding discipline. Yet it is ". . .literally a life-time work."
Fr. Kelty continues by discussing how we tend to look for the easy answers. And the best part: without pain and effort. There is no rule of life, no laws, no commandments, no obligations, no confrontation with evil, no repentance, no penance. It is ethics-free, and morals free, this fantasy world. People buy into it, pay for it, eat it up. So [Saint] Augustine did and got so tangled he was years breaking free.
What rang true for me - the reminder that some things are of such great purport that they require the work of a lifetime. And that some days we'll ". . .sense defeat, failure, lack of progress, no tangible reward for so much effort." And that's the bare-ass truth. (Have you exhaled yet? Let me know.)
In the next post (Part 2), I'll continue this topic, linking it to the field of self-help, and in particular, to what I'm learning about myself in the world of blog posting.