My parish priest shared a story at the beginning of his homily last week that really struck me and has stayed with me. That’s usually a sign that a blog might be brewing! The story goes:
“A man was getting ready to tightrope walk across Niagara Falls, pushing a wheelbarrow. He asked how many believed he could do it. No one believed he could. But he proceeded to cross with his wheelbarrow. When he got to the other side, he asked the spectators on that side if they really believed he could do it again. All agreed he could. So he asked them again if they believed he could, and they all answered yes. Then he asked, “So who wants to get in and let me push them across?” Would you?
That’s the thing, isn’t it? Even after seeing this happen, it would take a great amount of courage to actually get in that wheelbarrow. Fear gets in our way. We think of all the things that could go wrong. Isn’t that what happens in our spiritual lives as well? Fear keeps us from changing. Fear keeps us from letting go. Sometimes darkness can creep in and cover us with a blanket of gloom or despair. But as Providence people we know that even in our darkness we are never alone. God is with us in it…with us in our suffering and times of doubt and distrust. What I’ve come to learn is that even darkness has a gift to give us.
So the question becomes how do we bear adversity in our lives? Are we angry and impatient, do we look for an easy way out or do we witness hope? Are there patterns of grace that are awaiting us in the gift of suffering or times of darkness? If we simply focus on all the violence or devastation happening in our world today, the natural disasters that leave thousands homeless, or in such dire poverty without even clean drinking water, we could feel smothered by fear and despair. Just listening still to the numbers of people who have died from Covid and Covid related cases is astronomical! Missionaries and children kidnapped; it all brings tears to my eyes.
But as Christians, and certainly as Providence women and men, we know that suffering can be a great teacher. For sure it teaches us that we are not in control. God is. We are invited to surrender our suffering or times of darkness to the God we name Providence. It is often a mystery that threads through our lives. It calls for trust. The tapestry we might call our life, of its ups and downs, its darkness and light, challenges us to get in the wheelbarrow. Why? Because, as Sr. Myra Rodgers, CDPS says: “God is met in the place of darkness (or fear) because God was present all along the way.”
If you were to get in the wheelbarrow, what fears would you need to face as you went across?
Barbara McMullen, CDP