So Simeon has come and gone (see previous post) and now there is the aftermath. The Bible doesn’t say much about how Mary comes to terms with Simeon’s announcement, except that she “pondered these things in her heart.” Pondering is important, but ponder too long and you become paralyzed. Action is good, but only if it’s appropriate action.
When it comes to facing challenges, I’ve always been fond of this saying: Pray to God, but row toward shore. In other words, call on God, the universe or whatever forces can act in your favor, but do your own part to solve the problem. Don’t expect to be saved without having to sweat. If it’s taking the medicine, swallow the tablet. If it’s asking for help, pick up the phone. If it’s outrunning the current, row as hard as your arms can manage. But do your part.
Certainly, my Simeon Announcement brought physical changes through the various treatments for the cancer. But mostly, the announcement initiated internal changes, some of which I’ve described in earlier posts.
First comes a tendency toward hypochondria, when every new twinge or passing pain starts up the machinery of fear.
With that comes a certain measure of superstition. St. Anthony’s medallion fell off my neck chain a few weeks ago, the loop on the pendant having worn through with rubbing on the chain. (St. Anthony is the patron saint of miracles. He’s also reputed to help in finding lost things.) So is St. Anthony no longer looking out for me? If not, can I drink one extra cup of green tea to make up for that? How about doing a few extra yoga poses…
You begin to see the cycle, yes?
One key change is a new view of my ephemeral place in the world and the actions of those around me. (Those of you who have passed through the aftermath of your own Simeon Announcement might corroborate this point.) In particular, I no longer have patience for these types of people:
- The narcissists, who blame but don’t take responsibility
- Those who grandstand to call attention to themselves
- People who lack compassion, believing their flesh wound equals the gaping hole (literal or figurative) in someone else’s heart
- Those who control to convince themselves they’re important. (These people fool no one except others like themselves. The world is nobody’s oyster.)
- Those who don’t know their limits and so bring pain to others
- People who abandon ethical behavior to be among the popular
- The petty ones who can’t tolerate someone else more successful than they
- Those who seek to take advantage
- Those who lack gratitude.
Now you might say the recent election has shown us plenty of examples of people like this, but it’s more likely you notice these people every day. Though my Simeon Announcement has made me notice the darkness in people, it has also made me more acutely aware of the many who don’t appear in this list — the gracious and thankful ones, the ethical ones, the honest ones.
I’ve also become more aware of beauty, and light.
I savor even more the fleeting but significant moments. Which brings me to the photo in this post, the concrete evidence of an exquisite evening spent among dear friends, gathered by my family as a surprise to celebrate my recent birthday. In these increasingly dark days of November, that evening lights my smile.