The goodness of wondering: ‘Where are you going?’

May 10, 2016

As summer quickly approaches and our long desired vacation plans may soon be enjoyed, a question often asked is, “where are you going?” 

As I reflected on those few words recently, I came to feel that it was an inquiry that held more insight regarding the measure of my happiness than that of merely being on a beach in the Bahamas for a week. Though I would likely enjoy such a vacation, a much different interpretation of the phrase “where are you going” led me to contemplate on much more than my vacation plans, but on my life, personally and spiritually.

A reality for most of us is that we dedicate great amounts of our time and energy caring for others; our families, the Church, friends and neighbors. We can stay busy at such a fast pace that time for reflection on where we are going, and equally important, how we are going to get there, remains neglected. 

Nurturing the health of one’s own human spirit is an individual undertaking. There are no secret formulas, but there are suggestions that will help us to revitalize and renew ourselves this summer, or anytime.

The art of self-renewal begins with a key word; self. To constantly give to others without caring equally for ourselves may seem admirable, and at times even necessary, but in the long run, without self-care, is everyone really served well? Lack of self-care will drain us physically, emotionally, sometimes financially, and always spiritually. 

We are not machines, but human beings with a God-given soul that needs to be recharged and reconnected to our Creator over and over again. 
The Golden Rule reminds us to love others as ourselves. Self-renewal is not selfish. It gives us permission to appreciate and love ourselves. The depth and extent to which we love ourselves, appreciating that we are made in God’s own image, will be the depth and extent to which we can fully love others. 

One area that can help us renew ourselves is time management. This does not mean finding more time to do one more thing, or for finishing things left undone, but using the time we have more effectively.

Time spent caring for ourselves is an effective use of time. It does not have to be large amounts of time. It may be 10 minutes a day that we devote to uninterrupted time for ourselves to pray, to walk, to rest, whatever allows us to feel revitalized. Exhaustion has never been a sign of spirituality.

Another aid in our renewal is self-esteem. The more we believe that we are worth being cared for and that our time spent being recharged is essential, the more likely we’ll practice the discipline of self-care. The extent to which we work at this will be reflected in how well we actually handle the many stressors experienced in everyday life.

We could not do all that we do if God had not blessed us with many gifts and abilities. Taking time regularly to affirm ourselves is another way to keep the renewal process alive. Consider making a list of your individual talents. This intentional effort raises our awareness of how God created us uniquely and in doing so we become grateful. And nothing improves an attitude, like gratitude. 

To contemplate “where we are going” and how we are going to get there takes our prayerful attention. It is a very real journey that requires our time and practice to successfully reach a lifelong balance of peace and harmony — far better than any trip to the beach!

Charleen Katra is an associate director with Archdiocesan Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.