Today there seems to be a dwindling interest in those aspects of life which once could stir us into a state of at least temporary enthusiasm: new discoveries, new goals, new strategies. One time, after being exposed to families and friends not living my lifestyle, I became more acutely aware that this observation is not only peculiar to myself.
Have you, too, noticed a pervasive spirit of pessimism, negativity, and cynicism among our citizens? Consider the more obvious examples. How much of our daily conversation is taken up with the complicated web of governmental bureaucracy, the cost of living, the problems connected with nuclear power? Have you resented having part of your earnings regularly fed back into the tax system? How often have you had the feeling that no one cares about anything anymore, that we are the victims of some kind of inevitable fate which threatens to engulf us at an ever faster pace? As one quack’s comment about opinion polls today reveals: “So far, ‘don’t know’ has a solid lead; ‘undecided’ and ‘don’t care’ are tied for second”!
We need a reminder that beginning again is not enough, especially if our beginnings simply mean trying to do the old things better or to do them over again in a different way. Instead, we might need to put new wine into new skins. It takes courage to put the new wine of changed attitudes into our way of thinking and even more courage to transform these new attitudes into concrete ways of action. We can also avoid the mistakes of the past which make them just a re-run of what we did before. More, it may be the only way we can adequately prove that Jesus did, indeed, made us a new creation and so we can add a cheerful wish to all the peoples of the earth: “Here’s to courageous living!”
—Sister Mary E. Penrose, OSB
Sister Mary E. Penrose is a Sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. She edits readings for the liturgical Hours and writes reflections for the Community. And she is a tutor for the African Sisters attending The College of St. Scholastica. She was editor of a journal, Spirit & Life, for 18 years.