June 6, 2008

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

In overall scheme of things, ‘we’ve only just begun’

Shirley Vogler MeisterRegular readers know that I have shared the following Old Amish “saying” before at least twice in “Faithful Lines” columns: “The faster I go, the behinder I get.”

As the years roll by, I think about this adage more than ever.

Yet, I consider myself younger in spirit now than in previous years—even the years during which I was “chief cook and bottle washer,” but am busy dealing with many out-of-the-home projects.

I define my projects as anything to do with the betterment of family, friends, home, church, schools, neighborhoods, community and employment—and this includes volunteer commitments. It also includes the betterment of myself, spiritually, mentally and physically.

My computer spell-checker rebelled when using the pronoun “myself” so I was tempted to type “me, myself and I” instead.

As a Catholic high school student, I wrote an essay with a “me-my-I” title. I wish I had it now in order to compare my thoughts then and now.

At that time, I realized that I was on the brink of assuming new roles in life, but didn’t know they would include working for myriad publications, both on staff and as a freelance writer. Also, I wasn’t sure that I would now be a wife, mother and grandmother.

We all begin as “babes in arms,” but hopefully grow into adults with many twists and turns along the way. Little did I realize then that each change I made and each responsibility I accepted were actually a new beginning.

At some point, I decided to awaken each morning with the thought, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad” (Ps 118:24). But early on, I did not fully realize how profound a prayer that is.

Do I always jump out of bed, singing and anxious to get on with the day’s activities? No! Sometimes I dread what is ahead for me that day, but try to accept it graciously—often failing.

Do I always go to bed with a song in my heart and a prayer on my lips? No! Sometimes I am practically asleep before my head hits the pillow, and I often think, “Thank God that’s over.”

Emotions—and the intellectual or spiritual or physical roller-coaster lives that we live—naturally vary each day.

Yet, it is right and good to experience everything with an open mind and heart, open to the experiences that come our way to positively influence (or try to destroy) our character.

Like the popular 1970s Carpenters’ song “We’ve Only Just Begun,” which is sometimes still used at weddings, each day is a fresh start with varied possibilities.

Even when God spiritually awakens us to eternal life after death, “We’ve only just begun.”

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.) †

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