If you live long enough, you'll see amazing things

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Learning lessons of experience

By Mary Schmuck

Is there anyone else amazed that she or he has lived to see some amazing things?  

I graciously agreed today to complete a brief survey online for a national group. One of their questions: to how many of these social networks do you subscribe; my response was “none.” But I was amazed that there were a dozen of them, some of which were brand new terms to me. The good news: the sun has continued to appear each day though I haven’t subscribed to any of them or even knew about some of them.

Another big thing: I never dreamed one oil well could do so much damage as the Deepwell Horizon is continuing to do in the Gulf of Mexico. In my amazement at this is my strong wondering if we are beginning to learn some big lessons from this experience – that we need to greatly simplify our lifestyles and reduce our energy demands seem to be chief among these lessons.

A little thing: though composed of layers of such light and flakey pastry, baklava is so hard to chew. Is there a lesson here about the power of weak things coming together and becoming so strong?

Most evenings I take a friend’s dog out for her evening restroom break and maybe walk. The last part of any walk is stopping at a specific place to give her my daily lecture about not messing up any area inside the building. Last evening, at the one-third point of my enthusiastic mandating, she just looked up at me – and yawned. So much for my authority – with her anyway. Can any teachers identify with this experience? At any rate, animals can be very interesting, teaching us several things – humility for one!

I never thought I would live to see our planet host 6.7 billion of us humans alive at one time. So many of us alive at once and each and every one of us having God-given dignity. So we have to work out or refine ways to get along better and allocate non-infinite resource access and use. Of note, there is a growing effort currently to get global agreement on the human right to water.  (We humans certainly cannot live without it.)  We wrestle with whether or how much we are impacting air and water and changing weather patterns in the process, how to live with the changes, and how to take care of each other in the process. I’m with columnist Thomas Friedman in firmly believing that “We’re Gonna Be Sorry” (his July 24, 2010, column in The New York Times(www.nytimes.com/2010/07/25/opinion/25friedman.html?th&emc=th) that our federal government isn’t passing and more importantly that we aren’t demanding  strong energy/climate legislation. As he and others wonder: Have we no beloved grandchildren and relatives in future generations?        

Back to all those social networking vehicles, I admit to a slow burn when talking with someone on the phone and am asked to wait while another call is taken. Besides the claim to being on the line first, what does this do for social networking? Or while in a rare visit with friends, have one interrupt me to share a text message from someone likely in another state. Are we discrediting the gift of actual physical presence? Is this how some of us are finding new time for reading? Beyond concern for respect and courtesy, where is wisdom in all this?

Life surely is interesting – and certainly not boring, is it!

Sister Mary Schmuck, RSM is with Catholic Charities of Louisville Inc., a member of Catholic Charities USA and an apostolate of the Archdiocese of Louisville.