Sorrow can be a powerful instructor, but I’m firmly convicted that joy is an even better teacher if we can be a little recollected during the day. The last several days have been such a blessing. The sun’s been shining (always a good start). I had a chance to attend a wonderful seminar at Catholic University, visit with friends, enjoy some good meals and lots of laughter.
Today’s saint, Philip Neri (who makes frequent cameos on this blog), understood so well the power of joy. He was always overjoyed to find God in the people and circumstances he encountered in daily life in Rome. That joy became what I would call a springboard to heaven for him and those he encountered. What do I mean by this?
Take for example a simple walk with friends – A buddy of mine has just moved into a new home in the Navy Yard section of Washington. Two of us joined him for a hastily arranged BBQ in his as yet unassembled kitchen. Amidst the moving boxes, we grilled on the back porch and then strolled through this amazing part of “new DC”. Appreciating the breeze, being inspired by the new construction, savoring a scoop of ice-cream… and more than anything else, focusing on the love and laughter of friends… God is in each of these things… They are signs of his enduring presence among us and each one is a bigger bounce on the springboard of this world, vaulting us closer to heaven.
St. Philip’s motto, “I prefer heaven” did not mean that he denigrated the world in which he lived. Rather, he used it for its intended purpose; that is, as a vehicle for our heavenly exaltation… a springboard. His attitude is beautifully summed up in a thought from St. Augustine who said (and I’m paraphrasing) just because we’re in the world, doesn’t mean we can’t be in the Lord… Christ ascended to heaven precisely so that we could now be able to find him in all things and rejoice as we desire him more and more and eventually reach him.
Suggested spiritual “homework” – Before it gets ridiculously hot this week, stop down by the Anacostia waterfront near the Navy Yard and Nationals Park – listen for the sounds of kids laughing at the local pool park, look for people rejoicing in each others company, take in the natural beauty of the river… and in each of these things search for God. Finding him in the things of this world, you may find yourself bouncing closer to him in the next. Happy Feast Day St. Philip!