Saturday, September 19, 2009

Discernment on the go

It's a great blessing to make an eight-day Ignatian retreat, to be silent for a whole week and devote oneself to prayer and listening to God. But occasionally I find myself wanting to know God's will for a decision that I have to make really quickly. For that, as the priests at our parish have told us, St. Ignatius recommended asking oneself three questions:

1. When I'm on my deathbed, what will I wish I had done?
2. At the last judgment when all my deeds are called to account, what will I wish I had done?
3. Suppose a good friend is in exactly the same situation and comes to me for advice. What would I advise him to do?

Yesterday that came in handy. I had the day off (don't hate), and I had lots of stuff I wanted to do at home. The work had piled up because of my own procrastination, and I was anxious to get to it. But then my parents invited me to the beach (T-street Beach in San Clemente, pictured above). I hadn't been the beach in a long time and I knew this might well be the last warm weekend this year. I considered it and couldn't decide which was the better choice. Fortunately I then thought of the three questions.

1) What will I wish I'd done on my deathbed?

I'll wish I'd gone to the beach, no question. The beach I'll remember; the work I won't. Losing one day of work is frustrating now but it'll mean nothing then. And must I go another year with no beach?

2) And at the Last Judgment?

Well... I tried to figure out which was the right thing, and God will be my witness that I was slightly more inclined to stay home and get some work done because it was stressing me out. But it was a good chance for quality time with my parents, and I knew my mom wanted me to go. Not to get melodramatic, but we're none of us getting any younger...

3) And what would I advise a friend?

"You always have stuff that you need to get done. Are you going to avoid hanging out with friends and family any time there are chores you could do instead? Sometimes you have to put the work off. Go to the beach!"

So I put the work out of my mind and went to the beach. :) The water was so warm; even at 6 pm with an overcast sky I wasn't cold. In fact there were more people in the water as we left than there had been when we arrived at 2 pm. That was due to the after-school crowd, I think. As we climbed up the cliff to our car we passed lots of young guys trooping down the stairs to the beach with their surfboards.


Linda said...

Mmmmm, what fun! If you ask me you definitely made the right decision! (-:

Inigo said...

One more of those discernment questions..... which choice is for the greater honor and glory of God?

Clean a room? Or spend time honoring the desires of those loving hearts who cooperated with God to give me life and sustain that life?

Clean a room? Or spend a day praising God for the beauty and glory of His creation?

I would have made the same choice.

Anonymous said...

Just passing through friend, reading your blog on a whim... (google search actually)

It sounds to me from your words and actions like this was a good lesson for you in some way and one thing I would consider, if I were you is what is means to "rest" in Christ.

This is not the same as shirking responsibility of course.

However, consider that there is no doubt a time and season for everything. And remember too, that as men toil all their days under the sun, it was God who gave man the Sabbath, (yeah for god!) and he forbid that one or even his beast or his servant would do work on that day.

I am not a legalist, but I kinda think this was the whole lesson of the Sabbath. (God is amazing!) Besides, with so much work it sounded like you needed to relax and have some fun.

My vote is that is was a good lesson to be more diligent when you can with work and take time for the more important things in life.

Rachel Gray said...

Thanks, guys. :) Inigo, that's definitely another good question. And anon, quite right about the need to rest. One of the problems with procrastination is that it robs the mind of rest... the projects keep hanging over my head... :P