A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Keeping Our Hearts Soft Enough

Posted on: September 11, 2015

Recently I picked up a CD of Simon & Garfunkel’s greatest hits. One song, written by Paul Simon in 1965, stands out for me: “I Am A Rock”:

I am shielded in my armor

Hiding in my room

Safe within my womb

I touch no one and no one touches me

I am a rock

I am an island

And a rock feels no pain

And an island never cries

Fifty years later, these lyrics remain relevant.

Without ever venturing out of our homes, we can do our banking, order groceries and clothes, buy gifts, telework, and stay in touch with family and friends. We can create our own “community” online. We can strictly limit human contact—and, in doing so, we can keep the world and all its pain and messiness at a distance.

It’s a choice some people may be comfortable in making, but one that leads mainly to loneliness and isolation, which seem all too common these days. More and more, human contact is something we have to seek out, but it’s worth the effort.

I enjoy the monthly CWL meetings at my parish as much for the social time as anything else. When I go to the bank, it’s not unusual to see a senior come into the branch rather than bank by phone or online. And at the yoga studio where I practise, certain classes have regulars who know one another, at least by name.

We all have times where we want to shut out the world because we’re overwhelmed or grieving or because we’ve been hurt and we feel we can’t depend on anyone else. But when we try to be that rock, to avoid all pain, we can become numb to others’ pain or struggles—the new parents who are exhausted and could use a night out, a neighbour coping with illness who needs help with yard work, newcomers to the country who need advice on getting into language classes or finding household items at a reasonable price, or even refugees half a world away who need our prayers and our support.

May we have the courage not to isolate ourselves but instead to let our hearts remain soft enough that we continue to care for our neighbour as God would have us do.

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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