BY FATHER TIM JOHNSON - ST. JOSEPH CATHOLIC CHURCH
A recent blanket of pristine snow has covered the ground, with northerly winds and single digit winter cold. I'm caught between seeing the beauty out my window or simply bundling up and heading outdoors with a quiet wisp of hope for an early spring.
Just received my bi-monthly AARP magazine, which classifies me as old, I guess. I’m not quite ready for Geritol but frankly, I do enjoy some of the articles. One of which I browsed, "99 Ways To Add Healthy Years To Your Life," perked my interest and my chagrin. Some of their "suggestions" are worth considering, but others I'm in doubt about: "Snap a selfie," "floss," "ride in the back (of a plane when flying)," "think young," "pray for longer life."
I'm sorry, but added years does not quantify a "good life." A person who reaches 90 may or may not have the same quantity of life as someone who dies before they reach half that age. After all, Billy Joel once commented, "Only the good die young." Whatever length of life God grants us here on earth, may we mindful of "Kairos" time (God's time of specific moments and opportunities) rather then "Chronos" time (Quantifiable seconds and minutes, time as a measurable resource). Rather than "praying for a longer life," I place forth these 10 suggestions for a healthier Kairos life, (in no particular order):
1 — Allow yourself moments of silence, whether driving, at work, home or simply outdoors — without thought to the length of time. ("Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10)
2 — "Bite your tongue" when about to speak out of anger or pass on negative information about another. Pause and let the moment pass. As Barney would tell Andy, "Nip it in the bud." ("Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths . . ." Ephesians 4:29)
3 — "Tusen Takk." These two Norwegian words express heartfelt gratitude to another. Two simple words, "thank you," can be profound if offered with heartfelt gratitude. Not "you are the greatest" or "you are the best," just two simple words however simple or modest the gift received. ("I thank my God in all my remembrance of you." Philippians 1:3)
4 — Step outside and notice nature. On the coldest evenings and early mornings the constellations echo the face of God our Creator. A sunrise or sunset is never redundant or monotonous, but an invitation to a beginning and a culmination. ("Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad …" Psalm 96:11-12)
5 — Write a letter or a few words on a notecard to someone, anyone. As a friend reminded me some time ago, such handwritten words can be a "God letter," extending a presence of your remembering and caring to another. ("You are our letter, written in our hearts …" 2Corinthians 3:2-3)
6 — Create something, anything; whether a meal, a baked good or a simple project around the house. As a French professor reminded his class, "We are co-creators with God, creating spaces of goodness, gratitude, caring, hopefulness." ("For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything." Hebrews 3:4)
7 — Pray, not for a longer life but to be in the presence of God. Not always with repetitive words or form prayers, but as so many young persons do: simply pausing and talking with God, listening to his grace in the silence. A humble calling forth of God’s name is a good beginning and ending, and in between the honesty of "where have I walked with Christ, and where have I not." ("And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words." MT 6:7)
8 — Share. It may be a bit of your time listening or being present to another, at home or at work, with a neighbor or visiting someone in a care center; or possibly something of value to be given quietly to someone in need. ("Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2Corinthians 9:6-8)
9 — Read a bit, and not from a screen. As Dr. Seuss reminds us, "The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." ("The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple." Psalm 119:130)
10 — Be the person God created you to be. Not in a competitive nature of a lesser or greater than another. As quoted from the Desiderata: "Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass." ("and what does the Lord require of you: but to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8)
And if you must floss, walk on the wild side and use the mint flavor. God Bless.