On Solid Ground

The rain fell, the floods came,

and the winds blew and buffeted the house.  But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.” – Matthew 7:25

First grade teacher: “What season comes after summer?”

My kid: “Fire season!”

Observing a lesson on seasons during Zoom school last year, it became very apparent that first graders in California have no idea what the “seasons” are. The pictures of snow were described as being “somewhere on vacation” and the pictures of rain were met with blank stares. 

Fall in Southern California looks nothing like the storybook pictures of brightly colored leaves, brisk winds, and layers of sweaters and scarves. The temperature hit 90 degrees in November this year. The hot Santa Ana winds rattled the windows, overturned a porch swing, and knocked down a fence. Since the power companies were held liable for previous mass fires, they have been shutting off power when the winds kick up. Thanksgiving day 

brought another viscous round of winds that triggered more of these outages. Thousands of houses in our area were without power all day on Thanksgiving. Some people had generators.  Thanksgiving feasts were kept warm on BBQs and enjoyed via candlelight.  Still, there were many spoiled turkeys that got dumped in the trash on Black Friday. 

With “the winds buffeting the house” here, it’s easy to imagine the type of spiritual attack described in today’s readings. I’ve seen the effects of these winds, felt the pull as I drive my car on the freeways, heard the sounds rattling as I struggle to fall asleep. We’ve been lucky so far to have minimal damage and distribution.

These images also describe the struggle to remain faithful to God at times. Instead of feeling a noticeable “pulling away” from God, the false spirit distracts and disorients us. We are busy keeping our ship from sinking, so we can barely focus on staying the course. Once the storm settles, we dig our navigational equipment out from the rubble and retrace our steps. We all have experiences like this that rechart our life’s course: illness, job changes, a new birth, the death of a loved one.  The storms come and go. 

As these winds, fires, and turmoil attack us, God draws closer and closer until we are one with Him. In this season of Advent, we are invited to be as near to Christ as Mary was. That is the greatest gift we can hope to receive. 

How has the false spirit tried to distract and disorient me? 

How has God shown me “true north”? 

Photo by Igor Sokolov on Unsplash

Published by jencoito

Jen Coito is a California native with diverse experience in parish, academic, and national ministry settings. She has a Masters in Pastoral Theology from Loyola Marymount University. She worked for the California Province of Jesuits for seven years promoting Christian Life Community on university campuses and other diverse ethnic settings. Jen has collaborated on the creation of formation materials, discernment tools, and small group processes that are being used around the country in Vietnamese, Korean, Spanish, and English. In 2013, Jen and Jesuit priest Fr. Tri Dinh co-founded Christus Ministries out of a desire to engage local young adults and form young-adult friendly parishes. Jen works for the Sisters of Notre Dame in California as the Associate Director of Mission Advancement. Jen, Jason, and their three children live in Southern California. You can read more of Jen's writings at www.jencoito.com.

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