Some Practical Help for Getting Started This Week

Who are the people who show us the way to getting it right ourselves?

A very practical way to get started this week is to get out a piece of paper and make a list of the people who inspire me. Start with people I don’t know. They can be people in history — a St. Ignatius or St. Teresa of Ávila or Martin Luther King Jr. They can be people I’ve at some time been inspired by — that guy who owned the textile plant out east, who, when his plant burned down, kept all his employees on the payroll until he could rebuild the plant. Then name the people I know personally who inspire me — it could be that great-aunt who lived a heroic life or my pastor or someone I love.

Once we’ve come up with this list of people, we can spend our week reflecting on what qualities in each of them inspire us. How is their life in balance? What is it that they seem to be free from? What is it that they are free for? What were or are their choices and desires?

The young woman in the photo for this week was one of our students here at Creighton University. She is in one of our mountain-village campo clinics in the Dominican Republic. Just look at her face this week. What is she feeling in her heart? It took only a little freedom to go down there, but we can see how in her service she is receiving far more than she is giving.

This is not a week for judging ourselves. We may become more aware of the unfreedoms in our lives, but it is not a time to become self-focused. There will be time later to let all these graces work together for our own spiritual freedom. This is simply the next step in our journey. Admiration precedes imitation. This is a week to walk around with a growing gallery of images of inspiring people, with qualities and dedication that show us the power of freedom.

Remember to let this process fill the background of our lives this week. Upon waking, putting on my slippers or my robe — for the briefest of moments — I can say a simple prayer of desire: “Lord, I want to be inspired this week. Let this day draw me closer to how people live their lives in great freedom.” When I’m driving or walking down the hall or preparing din­ner or perhaps as I’m reading the paper, someone on my list is in my mind, and some part of their grace-filled way of living is touching me. When I go to bed, perhaps as I’m turning out lights in the house, I can say, “Thank you, Lord, for those moments that stirred my heart today.”

Check in with our progress throughout the week. How many people on my list have I reflected on? Do new names come to me? It will be difficult to keep focused this week. It is easier for us to be negative than to give ourselves over to sustained admiration. If I find myself losing focus this week, just return to these pages and refocus. Act against any negativity by returning to the photo.

Remember to say “thank you” throughout this week.

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