Set the World On Fire
“If you are what you are meant to be, you will set the world on fire.” – St. Catherine of Siena
Just prepare yourself, OK? – cause this is gonna be a little bit of a weird post. It’s gonna be about birds. Bird watching is actually a favorite past time and has been since I was a little girl. Lately 2 birds in particular have taken center stage: Harry the Hummingbird and Buddy the Woodpecker.
Harry has been part of Our Lady of Solitude practically since we moved to Tonopah, or at least since we put up the hummingbird feeder. Other hummingbirds come and go, but Harry remains. Always. Slurping from his sugar fountain, content and happy. He guards his feeder fiercely though. Hey, who wouldn’t? Liquid sugar served up fresh every week.
But Harry’s contented existence was all shaken up about 2 months ago when a new bird came into town. A big bird. A loud bird. A bully. The problem with Buddy is that he thinks he’s a hummingbird. His whole existence gravitates around our 2 hummingbird feeders. He squishes his big bird body on that little feeder – it sways and rocks, unaccustomed as it is to holding such weight. But Buddy is undaunted. Sipping away, daintily…at least in his own bird brain.
Sr. Tara exclaimed earlier today, with a bit of exasperation: “Buddy! You’re not a hummingbird!!!” That pretty much sums it up.
Harry’s acrobatic flying and melodious twittering has been overshadowed by Buddy’s squawking, persistence, and downright obsession with the hummingbird feeder.
In the quiet moments between his woodpecker squawks, I’ve been thinking about identity and REALLY TRULY being who we are created to be. First this means living our our foundational identity as children of God – and particularly as either beloved son or beloved daughter to God. Then living our vocational identity. And living all of this within the context of the very unique and unrepeatable “me” – with my temperament, personality, history, likes, dislikes, gifts, quirks etc, etc.
As a contemplative, I will set the world on fire through my life of union, solitude, silence, prayer, adoration, communal living/loving, intercession, etc. A priest will set the world on fire through his preaching, his administering the sacrament, fostering a deeply interior life of prayer. Married persons will set the world on fire through their life-giving spousal love, through raising children in the faith, living a deeply Catholic life in the home and at the workplace. Etc. Etc.
Sometimes, and this is just part of being human, we can watch the “Harry’s” of this world with their acrobatic flying, the endless supply of sugar, their beauty, their magic – and we can feel the full weight of the cross of being “Buddy”. To compare, as is often said, is to despair. Harry is meant to glorify God by being Harry. And Buddy by being Buddy. And me by being the fullest, truest, most authentic me. You by being the truest, most real you.
Lent is a time of purification, when the ‘old man’ is being purified and the ‘new man’ is being slowly born. This ‘new man’, this heart purified and transformed, is our truest self…And it’s from living at that deeply Christ-anchored center that we will set the world on fire with His love. And it’s amazing – the more we understand and live this, the less we have to try to be spectacular…even the ordinary things become extraordinary when imbued with power from on high. The fire comes when – quite simply – we are who we were meant to me.
(P.S. We’d like to extend a great big thank you for all those who so generously help us to keep Our Lady of Solitude up and running. In particular to all of the volunteers who help us on a regular basis! The Ladies of Solitude, Cory, Paul, and Robert. To all of our volunteers: THANK YOU!)