Each time that I’ve come back to Ecuador, I ask the people here in the village the same question as I meet them again for the first time in a while: “What’s new?” There are a variety of responses. Or rather I should say, a variety of types of responses. Some answer quick and short. Some answer long and drawn out. Some answer kind of like a song. Some pause for a little bit and think, poring over their thoughts first. Some just shrug with their response. But whatever the manner, the response is always the same, sad one: “Nothing.”
But I notice a lot of different things. New pregnancies and newborns, new construction, people have come or gone, some have passed away, kids are getting bigger. The reason I can see the new things and they can’t is because they do not leave the village much, and I leave all the time, for a long time. There are always new things happening in life. To be able to see the new things that God does, you have to step out of your reality for a stretch, be alone, and reflect on your path. That’s how you can clean off your vision and get to see God and all the new things that are happening. Then, life gets really exciting.
In the Gospels, Jesus has a custom of getting away from everything and being alone with God. I think he got this from Mary, his mother, and maybe Joseph, too. And they would have gotten it from the Law that God had given the Israelites. Where does it say in the Law that they should get away alone with God? Well, for one, the sabbath. And then, God tells the Israelites to learn from nature and the animals: the animals that step away from their activity and chew the cud, those are the clean ones. That’s how to clean your soul: you have to step away from your life, get away from everything, and be alone with God to reflect. That’s how you get clean vision. That’s how you get to see the new things that God is always doing. Then, life gets exciting again.
If life has become a rut, if it’s become boring, if you feel trapped or like you’re on a treadmill, it’s probably because you are not noticing the new things God is doing around you. It’s time to call timeout, and get out of dodge for a while. Chew the cud and reflect on your life, your path. Clean your soul. And then you’ll be able to start to see new things happening.
Then, life gets exciting again.
“Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.” (Mt 5:8)