Drabness and Heroics

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Drabness and Heroics

…realizing the speakers were ordinary men…the questioners were amazed (Acts 4:13).

At times, cartoons can be apt instruments, not only for giving us laughs, but also for setting off chains of thought.  This morning three of them, seen in rapid succession, evoked such a chain in me.  Ziggy, at a lunch counter, looked at a sign announcing, “Today’s Special: barely soup.”   A woman, seeing her husband watching TV, asked, “What’s the weather?”  His response: “ I can’t tell.  The forecaster is cloudy.”  Finally, a boy pointing to a picture in front of his little brother asked, “What are you drawing?”  The response: “I don’t know.  It isn’t finished yet.”

The three spoke to me of the specialty of daily life—its ordinariness and/or its drabness—which seems, once and a while, to be “barely soup.” And as we make sporadic and half-hearted attempts to re-initiate long buried resolutions, it is very difficult for observers to predict the climate of our lives. We are cloudy forecasters and what the final picture will be is anyone’s guess. Fortunately,  because the picture “isn’t finished yet,” we find our hope as Christians.

Cardinal Newman once suggested Christians “must live in sunshine even when in sorrow.”  The difficulty of accepting and energizing the daily grind cheerfully may be a more heroic test of our sincere desire to please God than dying gloriously like the martyrs.  Perhaps the death we have to undergo in relinquishing our cherished desires for leading more spectacular lives is the precise “stuff” out of which our resurrected greatness will emerge.  Seen from this perspective, we may even come to view the ordinariness of our days as blessings.  Better yet, if we think of the disappointments Jesus suffered at the hands of his own people, we may come to realize there is someone with us along the way who understands.  As Gerard Manley Hopkins phrased it, “Let Him ‘easter’ in us” all the days of our lives.

I will rejoice in the Lord and exult in my saving God  (Habakkuk 3:18).

—Sister Mary E. Penrose, OSB



Sister Mary E. Penrose, OSB

Sister Mary E. Penrose is a Sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. She edits readings for the liturgical Hours and writes reflections for the Community. And she is a tutor for the African Sisters attending The College of St. Scholastica. She was editor of a journal, Spirit & Life, for 18 years.


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