Wednesday, February 15, 2012


It’s good to see you,” you might say to a friend.

“It beats the alternative,” they might reply.

There is generally are two paths, one positive and one negative. This is of course speaking in broad generalities. In any particular case there may be a number of alternatives and extenuating circumstances and results that may not be at all pleasant in a particular case or all positive in another. But in the grand scheme of things, there is the positive and there is the negative.

For example, recently I spend some time with people who were ready to die. They did not hate life, they knew their time was coming and they were ready for it. “I am looking forward to seeing heaven,” one said to me. That’s the way I want to be. Why spend your last days bemoaning the fact that they are your last days on earth? Begin living eternal life right now. After all, what is the alternative? Being miserable.

Mom was always excited about getting lost. Driving to another state and finding ourselves accidently in the middle of nowhere with no idea how to get back where we should be (an increasingly more difficult thing to do with GPSs) she would get excited. “Let’s see what can discover that we would otherwise have never seen.” Actually we did discover some pretty amazing things – sometimes things that turned out to be the highlight of the trip. We made the best of it. After all, what was the alternative?

Sometimes it seems we train ourselves to be angry. When stuck in traffic, or we burn our toast, or someone doesn’t empty the dishwasher, or any of life’s many perturbences, we get angry. One the one hand we might say, “But of course! Life did not go the way I wanted it to – or the way it should have – or could have – and there was waste of time and resources. It could have been better.” And of course we would be correct. So we get angry and frustrated – even nurse those feelings. After all, what is the alternative?

The alternative is to say, “This is the way things are. I can choose to continue to be angry or I can make the best of it.” Yes, there are things about which we should be angry. Yes, there are some pretty rotten things in the world that we are not capable of being happy about, but too often we choose not to be happy when the only reason we choose anger or sadness is because we are supposed to feel that way. We spend much of our lives practicing the reaction to these situation. After all, what is the alternative?


Anonymous said...

I am 91, and it can't come soon enough


gw said...

I know you're busy with a parish to run and all your priestly duties, but thanks so much for taking the time to write these blog entries Fr V. My wife and I enjoy reading them. We're in the middle of something right now that we're angry about and worried about, and it's easy to be consumed with anger and frozen by fear. Your thoughts today were exactly what we needed to read and reflect on together, and I imagine we'll be revisiting it from time to time!

Fr. V said...

Thanks GW - prayer coming your way.