Most of us realize that we can’t rely on luck, chance or a roll of the dice for important life decisions; that’s tantamount to gambling with life itself.
Over the course of a lifetime, most of us will experience plenty of smooth sailings! The choices and efforts we make help us navigate to calm waters — or so we assume. Yet, suddenly life can get very complicated — and without explanation. It can become very confusing, difficult and stressful. What happened? Why are we suddenly faced with a scary health issue; marital problems; teen issues; an accident; loss of a job or other issues; neighborhood strife; spiritual challenges, or other personal stressors?
What happened to the smooth sailing? Did we miss or ignore clues forewarning us? Did we fail to listen and learn? Did we roll the dice rather than deliberately choosing the calmer path? In some cases, the answers are yes. But it may be more complicated than that. Perhaps Sudoku helps illuminate other possibilities.
Sudoku players learn to master more difficult puzzles after first learning how to solve easier puzzles. Few players keep playing easy puzzles because they want to experience the satisfaction that comes from solving extreme puzzles that offer more options but fewer clues.
Life is like that. Few of us want an easy life that is devoid of the more challenging ingredients of a happy life, including LOVE. What many don’t realize is that our desire for happiness and authentic LOVE can only be fulfilled after first welcoming God and then others into their lives. God — because He invented LOVE. He is the only authentic teacher and authenticator. People — because they provide opportunity to love as He loves.
The primary vocation of a married person is to love their spouse with a generous authenticity. The spouse’s secondary vocation — which must hold third place after God and spouse — is to his/her children. Our tertiary vocation demands that we love our neighbors as ourselves. These types of LOVE bring us higher degrees of happiness, personal challenges and greater unknowns with fewer guarantees. Qué será, será (what will be, will be).
So why do we pursue love? Because it makes us happier than when we live for ourselves. Some time ago, a daughter remarked that maybe it would be easier to stay single (after having a significant disagreement with her fiancé). She soon retracted that statement after more fully realizing that love — while complicated — brings more happiness. Family breadwinners are happy to stick with a job for the sake of their family. They don’t expect to freeload it through life once they start living with and for others! Spouses invite babies into their household without knowing how life may change.
We make these selfless decisions because we are made in the image and likeness of God-our Creator. And so we are like Him — only less perfect and less authentic-acting. We create in our own little ways! And, like God, we will also suffer have to die to self for the sake of LOVE and LIFE.
Let me digress for a moment. It’s especially important today to think why babies are such an important gift for the world — born and unborn! G. K. Chesterton explains it best:
Now a child is the very sign and sacrament of personal freedom. He is a fresh free will added to the wills of the world; he is something that his parents have freely chosen to produce and which they freely agree to protect. They can feel that any amusement he gives (which is often considerable) really comes from him and from them and from nobody else. He has been born without the intervention of any master or lord. He is a creation and a contribution; he is their own creative contribution to creation. He is also a much more beautiful, wonderful, amusing and astonishing thing than any of the stale stories or jingling jazz tunes turned out by the machines. When men no longer feel that he is so, they have lost the appreciation of primary things, and therefore all sense of proportion about the world. People who prefer the mechanical pleasures, to such a miracle, are jaded and enslaved. They are preferring the very dregs of life to the first fountains of life. They are preferring the last, crooked, indirect, borrowed, repeated and exhausted things of our dying Capitalist civilization, to the reality which is the only rejuvenation of all civilization. It is they who are hugging the chains of their old slavery; it is the child who is ready for the new world. (The Well and the Shadows, 1935)
LOVE makes it critical to stay coupled to virtue — fidelity, honesty, respect, trust, hope, love, and the like. Love, being the greatest of all virtues, will make us happy and give us a real sense of good purpose. Love moves us toward sainthood. The path will take us through many lovely but thorny rose gardens. We will stop to pluck its beautiful roses for the sake of our loved ones. Their thorns may prick our fingers and cause us pain. Like our Savior, we have to keep sudoku-ing through life. Unlike Sudoku, we will need to pray for Wisdom rather than relying solely on our own brain power, logic, or concentration.
What is wisdom? Where does it come from?
Wisdom teaches us and gives help to those who seek her. Whoever loves her loves life, and those who seek her from early morning are filled with joy. Whoever holds her fast inherits glory, and the Lord blesses the place she enters. Those who serve her minister to the Holy One; the Lord loves those who love her. Those who obey her will judge the nations, and all who listen to her will live secure. If they remain faithful, they will inherit her; their descendants will also obtain her. But at first, she will walk with them on tortuous paths; she will bring fear and dread upon them, and will torment them by her discipline; until she trusts them, she will test them with her ordinances. Then she will come straight back to them again and gladden them, and will reveal her secrets to them. If they go astray she will forsake them, and hand them over to their ruin. (Sirach 4:11-19)
Pray for Wisdom this Lent. Pray for the grace to endure, pray, give alms, and forgive while Sudoku-ing through life.
Have a blessed Lent and a very special Easter!
Copyright 2019 Linda Kracht