Deck Chair

Caribbean, January 2009

One day Charlie Brown just could not handle it any more. Life just did not have any purpose or meaning to it. So, he went over to Lucy. She had her booth set up and was charging ten cents for advice that day. And he said, “Lucy you are going to have to help me out. I do not know anything about my life. I do not have any meaning and purpose in it. Can you help me put my act together?”

And she looked at him in her know-it-all sarcastic way and said, “Charlie Brown, life is like a deck chair on a cruise ship. Some people take their deck chair to the back of the ship and they unfold it and they sit there looking at where they have been. Others take their deck chair on the front of the ship and they unfold it and they sit there looking at where they are going.”

“Now,” she said, “Charlie Brown, life is simple, where is your deck chair?” He looked frustrated. He scratched his head and said, “Lucy I do not know because I have never been able to get my deck chair unfolded.”

Jesus was unfolding his desires when he said his prayers to the Father. He asked three specific things for his disciples. One, that they may be strengthened. Second, that they may be united. And thirdly, that they may be holy. Jesus is saying these same prayers for us now.

Our good Lord is praying that we would have the strength to face the world and embrace our lives. He knew where our weaknesses are. They lie in the dark recesses of our conscience and misguided appetites. They are found in the flighty amusements and fleeting diversions of our world: those things that take us away from what are truly important and crucial, those places and experiences that drive us away from what are worthwhile and real, and those persons that tempt us away from who is valuable and essential.

We had been divided and fragmented before. We had been split and broken before. We had been torn apart and discouraged before. Those times were not happy moments. And we know of families who are divided and fragmented now. We know of people who are broken, torn apart and discouraged now. For them, these are sad and desolate moments. Or some of us might be experiencing those same sad moments right now.

When things like that happen, do not forget to pray. Do not forget to kneel before God and seek his help. Jesus warned us that things would never be easy. He was never naïve in thinking that once he is risen from the dead and ascended into heaven, once he sends the Holy Spirit, his disciples will no longer be tempted and weakened.

The answer to all our failures can be found in his prayer. He prayed continuously that we will be one because it is only when we are united that we will find our strength. It is only when we have a common goal and purpose that we will be able to achieve our vision. It is only when we move together as one that we will be able to find ourselves and our future. This is one of the things we learned in Kindergarten: when you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.

In unity, there is strength. What would weaken us would be the things that divide us. What would harm us are the things that break us apart. What would destroy us are those that would tear us asunder. It is ironic that when we accept each other, when we forgive one another, when we move beyond our mistakes, therein lies our strength, therein lies our unity, there is shown the way to God.

Once we find our strength, once we find our unity, then it would be less difficult to find our way to holiness, then we can truly find our way to God, for whom we were consecrated through our baptism, by whom we were chosen to be His own.

Jesus wanted for his disciples then and now: strength, unity, and holiness. And because Jesus never intended that we stray away from Him, because he never wished that we be apart from Him and because he never did intend that we be alone, unlike Charlie Brown, perhaps it is time for us now to unfold the deck chair and find life more prayerful and meaningful.


24 May 2009

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