I think in reaching for God, we are not trying to be saints; we are only trying to be real. We are only trying to be who we are. And anything that helps us be real is a gift from God.
I am in the process of reading the “Inner Experience” by Thomas Merton. Thirty six years after his death, his last book reaches us. It is a magnificent book. Merton speaks of reaching the real self inside ourselves, and peeling away the false self, the egotistical self, the self build on false ambitions. He openly says we cannot share intimacy with God by sharing a false self. He does not want our false self. (No one does!) If we do not reach our true self, the door to real intimacy with God is closed. Anything that helps us be real, is a gift from God.
A problem is that the things that make us real are usually not fun things. Birthday parties do little to make us real. Hard things make us real; challenges get to the real self. There is the problem. It is hard recognizing losing a job as a gift, or getting sick, or a child rebelling, or just plain getting old. All of these experiences are gifts, but only if we see them clearly and make them so.
So, let us see our gifts. I see so many who are saying, “Why is God doing this to me?” when God is giving them a blessing. Becoming real, discovering our real selves in the task of a life time. We must use our opportunities well. God is giving us gifts all the time. Let us see them.
Personal note: Even cancer is a gift if we make it so.
Fr. James O’Leary