Recently here in Ecuador a friend told me what was happening this past month in the big cities. What was happening is that people were crowding together outside the restaurants and barber shops and whatnot with their eyes glued to the television to watch the national team play in the World Cup. And at the same time, while they were watching, thieves were reaching into their pockets to take their wallets.
Well, that’s a story that gets a few laughs here, but it does happen. And what happens when you’ve lost your wallet, your money? You can’t pay your bills. Life becomes a huge burden of survival. Phrases like “Have to”, “Need to” dominate your vocabulary instead “Want to”, “Love to.” That’s what happens when we are robbed of our treasure. And the technique that the robbers use to do that is distraction.
The same thing happens in the spiritual life, in our hearts. We are distracted by the game, by the news, something on the store shelf, someone we are attracted to. We forget about the good stuff already inside our hearts. And then, just like what happens with the thieves, that good stuff is gone. And you know what happens when you’ve lost your treasure, when that fire in your heart has been put out. Have to, Need to move in and Want to, Love to. Life becomes a huge burden.
So there is the big question. What happens when you’ve been robbed? What happens when you’ve been distracted, and the good stuff in your heart has been sapped out, when life has become a burden of Have to and Need to? How do you get your treasure back? How do you get your fire lit again?
On Mother’s Day, I was visiting the village of Chontal here in Ecuador. This was the very first place in Ecuador where I had met the local people, where I spent time living in the village. But on this day, the rains came down so heavy that landslides rolled down the mountains and caused a natural disaster in the village. Homes were destroyed. Farms and livelihoods were severely damaged. The local school was flooded with mud. Roadways were impassable because of layers of mud and trees and rocks. Water and electricity were lost. No insurance, and a long wait for any government help, if it ever comes.
Now, a month later I came back, and people were beginning to celebrate. Dances and parades and food and whatnot. Cars decorated with creative artwork, sports played in the park, election of a beauty queen. It was the fiestas, and not just any fiestas, but the fiestas that celebrate the founding of the village. I started to hear “love”, “like”, “want to”. After it was over, one of the residents said to me, “It was good to see, for the first time in a month, there were smiles.” They were going back to their origins, memories of the original inspirations as to who they were and why they were there in the first place. And you could see the fire come back.
In the picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, you can see His Heart and there is always a fire coming out of it. His Heart is always on fire, because He is always in touch with His origins. And when we come to Jesus, He will always bring us to our origins. That is what He is always doing with us. Because that is where we’ll get the fire like Him.
So, where is your life a burden? At work, in your marriage, your living situation? Or, your prayer or religious life, or maybe your whole vocation in life? Maybe your friendships or an old activity or hobby you used to love? Go back to your origins. Go back to remembering who you are and why you loved in the first place. Remember and celebrate.
Go and get the fire back.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Mt 11:28-30)