January 14, 2005

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

Too late for resolutions, but not for truth

Is it too late to reform? Is the middle of January past the time limit for New Year’s resolutions? Well, durn.

Actually, I must confess that annual resolutions to improve haven’t been on my agenda for some years. That’s certainly not because I’ve achieved perfection, but because such promises never seem to survive January. Not to worry. I’ve reached an age where certain life truths have emerged, so I just stick with them.

For example, I know for a fact that the Virgin Mary will not appear to me in a 10-year-old grilled-cheese sandwich from which one bite is missing. Nor will she ever appear to me on eBay in any form, at any price. I also know that some people lie on purpose for meanness or greed and others lie out of simple ignorance, poor things.

I know that not everything I read or hear is true, but I also know that I must read and listen to everything I can in order to find truth. I know that it’s not easy to be absolutely truthful, either to myself or to others.

I know I should never be sarcastic when speaking to children, or to anyone else if I can help it. Sarcasm withers the hearts of both giver and receiver.

I know that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. For this reason, I know that fad diets won’t make me thin, pills won’t make me happy and plastic surgery won’t make me young. Only God can make such things happen, and then only if we welcome God’s grace and the possibility of miracles.

At the same time, I know that God’s love for us is constant, free and without strings attached. Perfect human love should be the same, and we need a lot of practice in loving, because the “free and without strings” part doesn’t seem to come as naturally to us as it does to God.

I know that children and adults who are constantly stimulated, entertained, assaulted by noise, instructed and otherwise managed during every single waking moment will have no time for reflection. And the result of no time for reflection is a lack of real learning or the experience of joy, not to mention the inability to hear God’s voice.

I know that “recreational” sex outside of marriage marks the death of romance and respect for the divine uniqueness in others. Eventually, it will destroy real love and its wonderful possibilities.

I know that most meetings are unnecessary. That’s because a fresh idea, which worked 20 years ago, went out of use and is now back in a modern version, is only new to people who haven’t attended meetings for the past 20 years. Still, it just might work. Times have changed. You never know. (We depend on disclaimers like that.)

Recently, I heard of a new book of humor called, From Here to Maternity. My first thought was, “Hey, I read that book years ago!” and my second was, “Whatever happened to copyright laws?” Then, a third chilling thought occurred to me: “It’s been so long since I read it, its copyright probably ran out!”

Come to think of it, maybe being long past the desire to make New Year’s resolutions is actually the culmination of them. Maybe, just maybe, the truth we’ve been seeing “through a glass darkly” is finally looming into view.

(Cynthia Dewes, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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