About the middle of the summer I began a spiritual discipline that I have been calling "My One Thing", in which I try to gain one clear message from each Mass that I attend by listening attentively and with an open heart to the readings, responses, homily, prayers etc for that particular liturgy, and asking God to lay upon my heart one clear message that is meant for me and me alone.
When I receive that clear message I have been writing it in a small journal that I received as a Graduation gift from the Librarian that I work with at the angelbaby's school because it is small enough to fit in my purse so I can carry it with me to Mass. I take the journal out right in the middle of Mass and jot down the message, whatever it is when I find that I have received it. This usually happens either during or right after the homily.
When I go back over the messages that I have written in the journal, what I find are things that are either affirming of me in my spiritual walk, or statements of correction for my journey. Each one gives me something to meditate upon when I need a prayer stimulus, or just want to do a bit of lectio. I read through it often and am amazed at how personal it is.
Today I got out my little journal and was waiting for a clear message at the Daily Mass which happened to be a school Mass and the first one I have gotten to attend that was presided over by Fr Bill since he returned from his vacation a week ago. What I ended up writing down, much to my amazement, were the words "don't be a bully". The funny thing is I remember Fr. Bill saying those words to the kids during his homily, but I didn't write them down then, because I realized at the time that he was doing what he does so masterfully; encouraging them to be better than they want to be in terms of behavior, and there have been some instances of bullying at the school last year, so this year he wants the kids to work on being better than that -- as in loving their neighbors as Jesus loves them.
No, I wrote the words later during the reflection time after communion, when I realized that I hadn't written anything yet and asked God what it was that my One Thing was supposed to be for this Mass. Without even a second thought I watched as my pencil wrote the words on the paper. I had no idea what context they had for me, but I was certain that the message came from God.
So after Mass I went into the Sacristy to say hello and welcome back to Fr. Bill since this was my first chance to see him since his return from vacation. I told him about my dilemma and that that God's message for me that day was "Don't be a bully". His response was that he found it hard to imagine that I could ever be considered a bully. I said unfortunately it was probably not that hard for God to find those traits in me.
I did tell him that thanks to him I would be pondering all day as to what exactly God was trying to direct me toward by telling me to not be a bully, and thanks a lot because it wasn't as if I didn't have other stuff to do all day. If I ever figured it out I am supposed to let him know, because he was really intrigued.
So I did ponder exactly that all day: what was God trying to teach me by giving me that phrase today at Mass? How am I being a bully in my life? I think I have finally come up with some idea about what God wants me to see in myself.
I don't bully people in the strictest sense of the term bully, but I do have a tendency to think that my way of doing things is the best way to do them, sometimes to the derision and need to make sarcastic comments about how other people decide to do them. Isn't this a type of being a bully? I need to work on my feeling superior to other people. I need to be more humble, and willing to allow that there are many ways to do things, and just because other people don't do things the way I do, doesn't mean that their way is wrong, it is just another way to achieve the same end.
This may seem like such a small thing, but to me it is quite huge. It is like the plank in my own eye that I refused to remove while I was chastising someone else for the speck in their eye. If I can eliminate this type of behavior from myself I will be so much more the authentic and effective person that God needs for me to be to bring about the Kingdom. Now that I have named it and claimed it, I think with God's help I can root it out of my life.
I will have to remember to tell Fr. Bill when I see him at Mass on Sunday.