Instinct. Insight. Intuition. Some other word that starts with “In.” Whatever you choose to call it, it is that tiny little nagging thing inside your head that tells you to do something. More and more, I am beginning to pay attention to mine.
I’ve been rude, I think. How was your summer? I know you can’t actually answer me, but it still seems polite to ask. Let it never be said that I won’t observe the social niceties in the face of both practicality and common sense. Where was I?
I am a fairly closed off creature, socially speaking. I play hockey with some guys (although ladies are certainly welcome.) I do the Module. I get together with friends on rare occasions. By and large, though, I don’t seek out social engagement. (For a more detailed analysis of my social neuroses, please refer to the July 2017 issue of the MYP Newsletter.) I mention all this because you will not be surprised to hear that I don’t generally go out of my circle to talk to people. And yet…
You know how Facebook works. Most people have a ton of “friends” that are people they knew in school, people that they may have worked with, and people who know people who they may have been tangentially associated with one time. I have these “friends” like anyone, and I mostly ignore them. But not today.
I have a friend from college. A woman who I have not seen more than twice in over fifteen years. A few days ago, she caught my attention. Nothing obvious. A changed profile picture, a gap in her posting history, some other small things. Normally I wouldn’t notice even that much, but this time I did. For some reason, I took notice. Moreover, I was gripped with the idea that I should reach out to her. Understand, please, that this is not something that I do. If I interact with a casual acquaintance at all, it is a quip in response to something funny they posted, or a lighthearted “howyadoin?” Not a genuine, heartfelt, “how are you doing?” And yet, out of the clear blue, that is what I asked.
She’s getting a divorce, is how she’s doing.
I offered her my sympathies and my friendship, should she need it. It seemed to mean something to her. Look, I have no idea if it will be significant in the long term. I have to think, though, that my small gesture will matter. Because I don’t believe that these things happen by accident. I think that niggling little voice in the back of your head is the Holy Spirit telling you something that you can choose to hear or not.
Another timely personal example: A couple of days after we had planned out the first Module event of our year, I started thinking about one specific Talk. I don’t know why. Nothing jumped out at me during the planning, and I wasn’t reading the outline at the time. I was on my way to work, and I abruptly started writing the Talk in my head. Tommy said I was being called to it. I can’t say that I disagree with him. Now, as of this writing, I have not yet given that Talk, so I don’t know how it works out. Let us assume for the sake of both my ego and my point that it was a rousing success. I think I have an opportunity to make a good impression on our teenagers. I want to take it. I choose to take it.
At the end of the day, it is all about choice. When we get these little inklings (Hey, there’s another one!) we must decide for ourselves whether we will do anything about it. I remember a few years ago my sister gave a Talk on retreat about how she once had the sense she was supposed to pay cash for something and didn’t, only to be confronted later with someone less fortunate asking for the exact amount that she would have received in change. She felt bad about it. She made a choice.
God has infinite means to affect this world of ours. It seems to me that His favorite is through us. I’ve always loved The Prayer of St. Francis. “Make me a channel of Your peace,” it begins. Free will means that we get opportunities, not puppet strings. We know that God helps those who help themselves. What do you say we help ourselves help God?
It’s something I choose to think about.