The World is Not Thy Home
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I am an earthbound creature. I don’t just mean that I am a typical human who sometimes shudders at the idea of their own mortality and is caffeine-dependent to be functional before 9 a.m. I mean I am deeply, stubbornly attached to people, houses, pets, favorite sweaters, and even the way certain landscapes look during a particular month and I tend to mourn the passing of time more than I rejoice in the beautiful new beginnings it can bring. I cling to “the way things are” so that I don’t have to think about the future and the idea of eternity which is both thrilling and terrifying by nature of being so unknown.
I am a cradle Catholic, raised by faithful parents and given all the tools I could desire to root my faith deep into the fiber of my being. As I grew up, my faith was a constant that I had few reasons to doubt or challenge. The first time I experienced ridicule for my beliefs is still fresh to me, mainly because it was so foreign to my rather sheltered childhood. The summer after my sophomore year of high-school, I took my first job on a landscaping crew, and fell in love with the weekly hours of sunshine, hard work and time spent learning about the different plants and flowers we tended. However, I was also very young, very naive and very “holier than thou” in my attitudes. Several of my older female co-workers quickly realized I did not swear, did not joke about vulgar or sexual topics and took an air of quiet disapproval when they did. Akin to a game of tug of war, they tried to coax me to engage in their conversations or speech, and I was mostly standoffish and judgmental because I didn’t want to go against my conscience. Slowly however, I saw the desire to be liked and included could over-ride my previously solid convictions; my shaky grasp of eternity and love of temporal comfort and approval held sway on my heart. By the end of that summer, I realized that faith was a part of me in a similar way to my favorite jacket or favorite book; it was familiar and sometimes important to me, but it could be quite easily set aside when I grew embarrassed of it or it was not immediately useful or comforting to me.
Even though that was almost ten years ago, the fight against my own apathy and worldliness still wages daily. It is not an easy road for a stubborn, earth-loving girl to try to mold her desires and fears into a faith that teaches us to say “the world is thy ship, not thy home” and “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief” to name a few. At least weekly, I find myself asking for trust, asking for peace, and sometimes just asking for perseverance when the other feelings are absent. On those days, it is important to remember that each of us has our own doubts and roadblocks when it comes to navigating the difficulties of life on earth while also preparing for life eternal. Even though I don’t foresee giving up my frequent flyer seat on the journey of conversion and repentance anytime soon, I do have a conviction that sixteen-year-old me did not have. The world can tempt us to believe that material possessions, human accolades or personal achievements are the source of fulfillment and that desiring a faith-life is boring or old-fashioned but in truth it is the biggest adventure, the sweetest challenge, the most evergreen of love stories. As Pope Benedict XVI reminded us, “The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”
Pray for me as I will pray for you all, and may we meet in heaven (where hopefully there will still be some sort of celestial coffee?) Peace be the journey!
- Maura McKeegan
Get to know Maura
Hello! My name is Maura Barnes. I am 25 going on 26, a brand-new wife, part-time teacher and sales rep and aspiring editor and home-improver.