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Father Paul Keenan As You Think
A Quarterly Column
Jul-Sept 2005
by Father Paul Keenan

Good News for Bad Days: Living a Soulful Life by Father Paul Keenan
Good News
for Bad Days

We are very pleased to welcome Father Paul Keenan to SoulfulLiving.com as our newest columnist!  With each new issue, Father Paul will provide us with an opportunity to pause and ponder, as he shares his thoughts and wisdom on positive thinking and the use of affirmations in our daily lives

The Spiritual Law of Gravity

Do you desire to live a balanced life?

We all do, I guess, but just what does it mean?

Most of the time when we think of balance we think of putting something into the pan of a scale to offset the weight of something in the other pan.  As in going to the market, establishing that sort of balance in life can be a tricky thing.  If one pan has had a lot of frenetic and busy activity around it, let us say, what amount of that side of the scale can we clear out and what can we put into the other pan to balance it?  How much time for reading, for relaxation, for meditation, for physical activity, for watching our nutrition, for gardening or whatever will offset the demands of our busy lives?  It’s hard to know.  I think that one of the reasons we have so much trouble achieving a balanced life is that we tend to think of it in terms of taking bits and pieces out and putting bits and pieces in.

Heart Storming by Father Paul Keenan

Another image for achieving balance is the game many of us played when we were kids and we tried to get a set of dominoes to balance without everything toppling.  That, too, is sometimes an approach we use for achieving balance in our lives.  We may be fortunate enough to clear the decks and start all over, maybe thanks to a good vacation, sabbatical or retreat, or by the sheer power of will.  We get the pieces of our lives all arranged and it looks as though we have finally reached the balance point we wanted.  Ten minutes back after vacation, we find ourselves wondering if we were ever away.  All the mail, all the demands that awaited our return, are there before us now and we are left scratching our heads as we find ourselves succumbing to the old rat race.  Like the dominoes in our game, we find ourselves scattered in pieces once the pressures of life return to us.

What happened, we wonder?

We need to change our ideas about balance.  Balance in life is not about piecing things together in the hope that they (and we) will hold and not collapse under the weight of the pieces.  Rather it’s about working with, shall we say, the law of spiritual gravity to let it do the work it is intended to do.  For what we are talking about when we turn our thoughts to balance in life is a spiritual law of gravity, the force or energy that gives us center and focus.  Another way of describing that spiritual law of gravity is “the soul.”  Though we tend to think otherwise, the soul – the spiritual law of gravity – is intended to work naturally to draw together with beauty and grace the various elements that are meant to be in our lives.  When we try to do its work for it, we actually interfere with its natural work.

In my book Good News for Bad Days I wrote a chapter entitled “You Are Attractive,” in which I reflected that, if we permit it to do its work, the soul is like a magnet drawing to us easily and effortlessly exactly what we need in each and every situation.  Indeed, there can be soulfulness in each and every situation we encounter, even the ones that appear to throw us off balance.  Perhaps the illness of a close friend or family member has us feeling scattered, overwhelmed and scared.  Even if the medical diagnosis turns out well, aftercare can be difficult and exhausting, especially if the patient is cranky or in pain or frightened as well.  Can this be soulful?  Can balance be restored? 

Stages of the Soul by Father Paul Keenan

If we permit the soul to guide us, the answer to both questions is a resounding “Yes.”  In such a strenuous situation, that may seem like an impossibility, but the trick is to look behind the pieces of our lives and to find the law or rule that can teach us how to hold things together.  We must, in other words, begin by challenging the “wisdom” of the outer appearances and instead remember and affirm that there is a spiritual law of gravity that can – indeed must – work in us to achieve harmony.  We must befriend the soul and allow it to do its natural work of befriending us.

What, in the practical realm, does that mean?  For one thing, it means being observant of inner and outer signs of guidance.  Once I was assisting in the aftercare of a friend who was recovering from complicated surgery.  It was not an easy time, and I felt totally at a loss as to what to do.  The thought came to me, “You must take care of the caregiver.”  That one bit of inner guidance helped me to better understand what I needed to do.  It led me to the realization that I did not have to do it all, that I was not responsible for every aspect of my friend’s care or comfort, that there were certain things that I could do better than others and that I could ask for guidance in doing more of those than the ones I did not do so well.  Using that thought as a guidepost, I found opportunities for prayer, entertainment and refreshment naturally finding their way to me.  I’m not saying it made the situation perfect, but it made it – and my responses to it – infinitely better.  Others appeared who were willing to help, and the patience of the patient improved daily as physical health began to return.  That one thought seemed to be just the thing I needed in order to mobilize the other things I could use so that my balance could be restored.  I know for certain that I could not have achieved that on my own, and that I needed the spiritual law of gravity to take over and to do what it does best.  In addition, that period of time became one of tremendous spiritual insight for me in dealing with some aspects of my life that were troubling me at the time.  The patient was healed, and in a very real sense so was I. 

The simplest way to tap into the spiritual law of gravity is to do three things.  First, acknowledge that, despite what outer appearances and well-meaning acquaintances say, it is there.  Second, watch for guidance from within and without.  Third, follow that guidance – meaning, be mindful of it, watch it do its magnetic work and respond accordingly. 

The soul – the spiritual law of gravity – is ever at work.  We need not work it or make it work.  What we need to do in order to find balance in our lives is rather to affirm it and to watch it do its work on our behalf.

© Copyright 2005 Father Paul Keenan. All Rights Reserved.

Read Father Paul Keenan's Past Columns:

April-June 2005 - "Spiritual Spring Cleaning"

Father Paul Keenan
Father Paul A. Keenan
, a priest of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, is its Director of Radio Ministry in the Office of Communications.  He served as co-anchor and consultant for the broadcasts of ABC News Radio for its coverage of the death and funeral of Pope John Paul II and the election and installation of Pope Benedict XVI.  He co-hosts “Religion on the Line,” a weekly news/talk program on WABC Radio in New York City (airtime 7:00 – 10:00 a.m. ET Sundays and available live on www.wabcradio.com.) He is a regular columnist for Catholic New York and for SoulfulLiving.com and serves as a parish priest in New York City.  He is the author of the books Good News for Bad Days, Stages of the Soul and Heartstorming, all of which are available through this website.  He hosts his own site at www.fatherpaul.com.




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