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Life often posts ongoing challenges to our ability and willingness to live it fully.  The paralysis of analysis is an example.  True enough, most things are complicated; but keep it simple stupid (the kiss principle) can help us get beyond the impossibility of not determining anything.  That said, simplicity also carries with it challenge.  A good example is binary thinking: good or bad, black or white, right or wrong, all or nothing, male or female, love it or leave it.  My experience is that often our expectations are shaped by our tendency to overuse the help binary thinking can give us as we try to understand.

We humans are a mixture of strength and weakness, of wisdom and foolishness, of hope and despair.  And thinking that life is process of growth and development which leads to better and better and better, suggests that we are not really meant to be a mixture, a complicated mix of contrasting characteristics.  Wisdom seems to lie in accepting what we are and learning to find how to become more fully ourselves, knowing that this acceptance then leads to real human growth.  Growth for example can come from wise choices and willful and faithful commitment to the good, as well as from learning from our mistakes, accepting what we cannot do or become, and building from our vulnerability.  Sadness can deepen my heart and character if I allow it, even with its painfulness.  Deep love and deep grief are absolute partners, if I choose to love I will have to bear its costs.

I like the Biblical image of the bruised reed and smoldering wick, I learn that what is bruised smoldering and broken in me, which will not be made whole, but only can be accepted and then experienced as a way to fullness.  It is a way to really understand the truth of salvation, and with it, our human need for one another, our quest for complementarity, the grace given when the good of another embraces our weakness and calls forth from us our best.  And how can that which is not full in us lead us to understand what is not full in another and choosing then to compassionately accompany that other offering faithful love and care.  It is risky business no doubt, but it is the only way to really and fully live, with one another. Our humanity requires an acceptance of our strengths and weaknesses, and even to knowing that what we label as strength will carry with it cost, and weakness will bring some benefit.  Complicated mix of contrasting characteristics, tendencies over which often we have limited control, is what we are, never simply good or bad.   Complex, that is what we are, and saved; that is how we reach our full potential as we are.

So what will you be when you grow up? One who embraces salvation and thus is fully alive; at one and the same time strong, whole, broken, weak, needing one another to compliment and complete, made more together.  A complex truth I think, a powerful truth I am sure.

Fr. Jim

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