At many points over the years, I have felt unsettled or ambivalent about aspects of my life.
During my childhood, my mother was not well. As a result, I was cared for by her sisters. They were very good to me. They said, “You have a second home here with us.” Yet this early experience of multiple homes left me with ambivalence about the choices I would make. No matter what life presented, if I chose one option, I always reserved the right to entertain another option.
Often I have felt like an animal torn between two bales of hay—not able to choose one bale out of concern that losing the other would result in being deprived of the nourishment necessary for a vigorous and decisive life.
Over the years, I came to believe that life was less about making choices and more about remaining open and observing how circumstances can make a decision for me.
Nevertheless, when I told myself that life was about allowing options to unfold, I was actually depriving myself of a fully engaged life.
For example, not long after ordination, I told myself, “I’m still young enough to get married.” This attitude diminished my investment in the vocation I had chosen. The ambiguity that had indelibly penetrated my soul deprived me of clear choices and commitment.
The real challenge is to be able to decide. As Harvey Cox wisely wrote, “Not to decide is to decide.”
Recently I have been taken with the work of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ, and his ability to reconcile evolutionary science with the Christian faith. An important element of this evolutionary faith is healing any separation between the world of God and the world where humans dwell. Without this healing vision, we are inclined to experience our life of faith and our life in the world of everyday existence as somehow unrelated.
Previously, my faith experience seemed destined to remain divided. I was stuck in a life of ambiguity and uncertainty because whatever path I choose to take, I was simultaneously open to an alternative option. As I review my journey now, I am grateful for the factors that brought me to this point and I pray that any future ambiguity will cease and that I will have the strength to embrace the future with enhanced enthusiasm and resolve.
I remain grateful to Teilhard, whose reconciling of science and faith contributed to healing the ambivalence that grew out of my two homes in early childhood, and that now allows me to more fully appreciate that God is present all things.
Thus, with fresh energy, we know the consolation of a life infused with divine presence and the joyful exaltation of a life no longer immersed in the ambiguity of a previously unlived life. May our future be clearer and more decisive than all our pasts.