Becoming a person of hope and calmness
By Colin Shutt
Before I go much further with my thoughts about contemplation and introspection etc., I freely admit that all you ladies out there – and I am generalizing already – have a command of these. And generalizing again, most men have to be gently pushed into a corner to exhibit any of these. That is, unless you are DaVinci or Hemingway.
We, as men, are not window gazers but since this pandemic hit, I seem to have a lot of time to gaze. With the extra time on my hands most chores and hobbies cannot consume all my time.
So here I am writing this short piece because I have had time.
We are blessed with a small sunporch which looks out on my garden, grapes and hummingbird feeder. And yes, I have sat there before but usually spending just enough time to drink a coffee. Taking much more time to appreciate God’s beauty so freely given, (other than a little rototilling), and finding myself asking a lot of why and how come questions.
Some of you gents may relate to some of the things that have happened in my life which I call prompters (or corners). The first major decision I made, that truly affected my Christian journey, was my Cursillo weekend in 2012 – the questions and introspection it opened were the proverbial can of worms. And, instead of making me all comfy and rosy, it turned me into a seeker.
The second major suggestion given to me by one of my favourite clergy persons was to go on a silent weekend. For those of you who don’t know me, that was a LOL moment for most all of the people who do know me: Colin silent? No way! But I went! And, yes I was silent, kind of ‘cornered’ into introspection.
There, in a moment of deep prayer on a sunny afternoon, in a rustic chapel, I finally allowed myself to be forgiven. Jesus became my BFF. If anyone knows the poem “Footsteps”, he no longer had to carry me. From there to EFM to which I gave what I had and accomplished my four years.
Now back to gazing out the COVID window. New questions started arising: Is my “Rule of Life” really challenging me or is it just a comfy corner? How good am I at applying the Beatitudes? Am I truly an asset to my fellow man?
It has been a while since I dredged up any of this stuff!
Some may say you’re just a marvelous lad but it’s you who has to look in the mirror (another spot where men, I suspect, don’t spend much time); it seems you don’t need a window only to gaze into. I feel for me the mirror is a way to intimately (another thing as a man I am not accomplished at) look into your soul.
So if one day you bump into me, feel free to ask how I’m doing with my soul gazing, remember most men need to be nudged into that corner! And as a Christian, I expect to be held to a higher standard.
Thanks: I feel better writing this and I hope you can relate.
Colin Shutt is a parishioner of St. Stephen’s Memorial, London.