Jerome, of Living Monstrance, has a gift for taking everyday incidents and making a spiritual connection; this is the main thrust of his blog, and his posts are consistently some of the most insightful, uplifting and encouraging that I have read anywhere online. While I do experience an awareness of the sacred and sacramental in everyday life, my mind does not work like Jerome’s, in terms of a natural spiritual interpretation arising so frequently for small, seemingly ordinary daily occurrences. So when, in my second-to-last post, Jerome asked me, via the comments, to “unwrap” the spiritual significance within the anecdote I posted (I’m So Impulsive), I was ready to just dismiss that as not being a part of “who I am”, and that it would be an artificial practice for me, whereas for Jerome, it is a God-given way of interpreting the world.
Yet the incident stayed with me after Jerome’s spurring me on, and more specifically, the comment from Carol, who very humorously said that I should have told the driver, “You knoooow.. I hadn’t even thought about doing that, until now…”, which idea Kristin also reinforced in a later comment.
And that’s the truth of it. The thought came from him; a thought which never would have occurred to any of us entered our minds via another person and stuck. It reminded me of a story one of my friends used to tell. When she was little, her mother gave her her first little box of Sunmaid raisins, and said, “Now, don’t stick those up your nose.” Well, my friend said it never would have occurred to her to stick them up her nose, but since her mother had said it, what did she do? She stuck them up her nose, which then entailed a trip to the emergency ward.
We have to be so careful of the thoughts we put into other peoples’ heads. As an adult, there are so many things I wish I had never seen, never heard, never encountered. I’m not speaking so much of the general things we all wish we had never been forced to witness, such as war, poverty, abortion, etc., but of specific thoughts and/or images. It’s no wonder that older Catholic instruction booklets and religious aids emphasized the importance of monitoring what we watched, which books and magazines we read, and what events we participated in. Self-monitoring is part of the walk down the path of holiness. We must be careful what we allow ourselves to absorb, and also very careful of what we express to others. Garbage in, garbage out. Holiness in, holiness out. It’s a big responsibility, and it’s ours.
But it is comforting also to know that, since we cannot live in a bubble and avoid every unpleasant, unholy thought, image or word around us, nor even can we generally avoid having some of these unholy things pop up in our own minds in a seemingly uncontrolled or spontaneous fashion, that God looks at the heart; I’m sure He’s well aware of the plethora of negative and/or unholy things that have the potential of saturating our day and our minds in this world. With His grace, these things touch but don’t stick; they alight, then move on quickly. He knows they can enter our minds from outside, but they are not coming from within our hearts, just as we heard in the Gospel this past Sunday (Mark, Ch. 7):
Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile them, but the things that come out of a person are what defile them.
For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come…