You know well (better than I) my priest-friend and former classmate we had over for dinner recently. He’s been very close to our family for over 40 years. Now he’s very sick and feeble with Parkinson’s Disease and his mind is starting to have lapses here and there. Because of his disability he has, of course, been retired from active ministry for quite awhile now. At the dinner table with us he wandered into a melancholy moment of soul-searching that questioned his accomplishments and effectiveness as a priest. The aura of doubt that surfaced in his words reminded me of my own (and probably every human’s) doubts about the efficacy of their life.
I have my own feelings this way – about whether or nor I’ve been as good a husband or father as I could have; or whether I made wrong choices about which directions to go in my life. The cliché about hindsight being 20/20 is overused, but true. I don’t think there’s one of us on this earth who can’t look back with longing at certain portions of his/her life in which they would have made different choices. But we can only go forward, not back. Hopefully the lessons of past mistakes guide our future choices.
Despite our overwhelming proclivity to do so, we cannot dwell on the past. What’s done or not done remains forever. The point here, I think, is that we cannot place our hope in ourselves. It will disappoint us and lead us toward despair. Far better to put our hope in others but, as humans, they too will probably disappoint us. This disappointment must be accepted with life. The best move is to place our hope in You. Thoughts of a misspent life or a life of missed opportunities can be heavy and oppressive, but our priest-friend, time and again, has and does accept the circumstances of life and puts them all in Your hands. What more can we do?
Into a cloud of forgetfulness I commend my past. Let my concern be only with the present moment.