Posted by: mmreflections | February 20, 2010

Hide and Seek: February, 2010

“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it?  And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, “Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.”  (Confer Luke 15:1-7) 

A favorite childhood game often played in our neighborhood when growing up was “Hide and Seek”.  Thinking back on those days, I remember the last time I ever played the game.  It was just beginning to get dark and we were playing on a street corner under an arc light.  We had no playgrounds in those days.  Our playgrounds were the street corners at night and the nearby woods and hillsides during the  day.  On this particular night we were having fun playing hide and seek and I found a great hiding place.  I hid there waiting to be found but no one came to look for me.  After what seemed to be a really long time I realized my friends had played a trick on me.  Instead of looking for me they all ran away!  I came out of my hiding place and called to them.  “Here I am!  Is anyone out there?”  I called out again and again.  There was no answer!  I sat down on the curb and waited, hoping they would come back for me but they never did.  I can still recall the feeling of sadness and disappointment I experienced that night at having my friends run away instead of trying to find me.  I finally went home, too embarrassed to tell anyone what had happened.  I don’t remember ever playing the game again.  The trust I had in my friends must have diminished. 

There is some strange delight children take in hiding and being found again.  Sometimes children like to hide from their parents, happily and confidently knowing they will come and look for them and they will be found once again.  It is delightful observing little ones playing this game and hearing them squeal with delight when they are found.  How quickly time passes and we grow up putting away childish things.  But do we really put them away?  I find myself wondering if we don’t play the same games as adults.  As adults we hide in different ways.  We often wander away from the plans our heavenly Father has for us and knows are in our best interests and well-being.  We may feel God has forgotten or abandoned us because of our foolish mistakes.  There is an inherent sense we will be found once again as a tiny voice inside us is crying out, “Here I am!”  In our wanderings away we may forget how great is the concern God has for us or we may feel our mistaken wanderings have caused us to be forgotten.

How do we end up in hiding from God or getting lost?  In reflecting upon my own journey I recall the times I wandered off because of sheer foolishness.  Like a lost sheep, believing the grass was greener somewhere else, I left the flock and the shepherd.  It was a turning away from good friends and the Lord, getting mixed up with the party crowd who seemed to be having such a good time, only to discover their company was not so much fun after all.  In my disappointment with myself and as a result of my foolishness, it was  difficult to believe my true friends would welcome me  back or were even looking for me anymore.  Looking back on those college days, I recall with great joy how fortunate I was to have a true friend find me and help me to get back on the right track.  Like a lost sheep I was not thinking; I was not paying attention.  Most of us could avoid foolish mistakes if we stopped to think!

I find myself experiencing great sadness when meeting, talking and listening to young people and older people who have been led astray by their peers who appeared to be well-meaning but in the end introduced them to self destructive behaviors that have affected their entire lives and, in many instances, their families.  I recall the challenges I faced myself as a young high school and college student when some of my associates would keep pushing me or persuading me to join them in activities that were inappropriate.  The price many have paid for not going along with the crowd has been rejection or some other form of abuse.  It seems that not much has changed when I hear of the struggles young people are facing today.  Those who have succumbed to the enticements of their acquaintances have learned only too painfully the price that has to be paid afterwards.  A common temptation is to believe God has forgotten us because of our foolishness or the other temptation to hide from friends, family, the Lord and ourselves.  If we were to be still and silent for awhile we would sense a little voice deep within us crying out, “Here I am!  Is anyone out there?” 

Many of us have gone into hiding by deliberate rebellion.  In the story of the prodigal son we have a good example of a young man deliberately leaving his father’s house, taking his inheritance and foolishly wasting all the abundance he had before waking up and realizing he was lost.  Most of us would not behave quite as boldly as this son, but there are many ways we end up silently rebelling and giving into that other voice saying, “I will not serve!”  In reviewing my own spiritual journey I sadly realize the many times and ways in which I rebelled and chose to take matters into my own hands.  Knowing what was the proper, just and loving way to handle some situations, I acted out of pride, anger and resentment, only to be left with that bitter taste in my mouth which could only be removed with apologies and forgiveness.  Until such reconciliation unfolded hiding from what needed to be done, hiding from my true self, and hiding from God seemed to be the only thing left.  Still that little voice deep within was crying out, “Here I am!”

With all the sufferings and problems in the world today, many are questioning the existence of a Higher Power.  In the midst of the natural disasters, corruption in high places, wars, scandals, sickness and untold suffering unfolding in the world, in the nations, in our own nation, in our families, or in our personal lives, something in us cries out, “God, where are you?  We can’t find you!  Do you see us?  Why are you hiding from us?”  Perhaps we might do ourselves a favor by first asking why we ourselves are hiding from God.  

We could begin by being still and silent for awhile.  As a child I enjoyed the beautiful stillness and silence that seemed to abound and surround us where we grew up.  I recall sitting quietly as a young boy on what we called the Indian Rocks which were out on the hill-sides near where I grew up.  There I dreamed about what I wanted to do with my life.  I often wondered if I would ever visit some of the beautiful places I had read about in school.  Most of those dreams have been realized but I wonder if they would have been realized if I had not known the silence in which to dream them.  Would I have ever become a priest in the service of others, had I not dreamed about it in those silent moments?  I still treasure the silent moments I continue to enjoy each day.

Why do we look at all the pain and suffering in the world and fail to see the presence of God in every volunteer, every group, every effort being made to reach out to even one suffering brother or sister? Why do we ignore the value of reaching out to an old friend or person in need to let them know they are not forgotten or alone?  Why do we ourselves fail to hear our brothers and sisters crying out in pain, “Here I am?  Is anyone out there?”  I believe it is because we have forgotten our reason for being alive which is to manifest God’s presence and love here and now.  Only in silence and stillness will we be able to hear deep within us the voice of God saying, “Go out into the world and let my suffering children know they are not alone or forgotten.  Do not be afraid.  I am here.”

“On my bed at night I sought him whom my heart loves; I sought him but I did not find him.  I will rise then and go about the city; in the streets and crossings.  I will seek Him whom my heart loves.  I sought him but did not find him.”  (Song of Songs 3:1-2)

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Responses

  1. Pretty awesome


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