Loyola Press invited me to be part of a blog hop celebrating the release of Chris Lowney’s new book, Make Today Matter: 10 Habits for a Better Life (and World). This book takes a look at various habits that Chris Lowney, a former Jesuit seminarian, cultivated over decades of work in corporate leadership.
The habit I was invited to reflect on is his Habit 6: Change Your Little Part of the World. I grinned when I got the email assigning me this one because I knew where we would be in our series, The Promises of God, and what a beautiful time to remind us of the model we have in Jesus.
Habit 6: Change Your Little Part of the World
The story used to illustrate this habit is one where Chris visits the outskirts of Manila, in the Philippines to view “Magic Mountain”, a massive garbage dump that stretches high into the sky. Men and women paid to climb the garbage heap, and look for treasures to be resold. Children, too, were part of this scavenging through trash. His initial goal for the trip was “witnessing human resilience amidst unjust circumstances” (p. 47). When he got there, though, he was struck by the work of two nuns, who lived at the bottom of the mountain.
How easy it would have been for the two nuns to be overwhelmed with the gravity of the situation as they surveyed the massive mountain of rubbish before them and witnessed human beings digging through trash for their livelihood! Instead, they did what they could, and impacted the small little part of their world by offering children a cool pool to wade in and bathe in, food, water, and education.
Chris invites us to survey and notice the “magic mountains” around us and do our part to help change it.
Jesus is Our Model:
What Chris Lowney is offering here is the model of Jesus. What’s mind boggling about the ministry of Jesus is that he didn’t travel to the far ends of the earth to do his ministry. He lived and moved and ministered in the world right around him. He changed the little part of his world. His impact was so big that we still feel the impact of what he began today.
We are called to change our part of the world:
How often, do we notice a situation in our own lives or in the world that is so massive that it can make us feel any effort to change it is futile? We can become overwhelmed to the point of paralysis, and instead of doing something, we do nothing. When we feel this type of desolation that makes us feel stuck and unable to act, we are invited to pay attention to this. St. Ignatius invites us to name this as the movement of the spirit not of God. St. Ignatius also invites us to work against this desolation by not only discerning what we can do, but actually doing it.
What ought I do for Christ?
A helpful question to guide us as we discern what we can do comes from the first week of the Spiritual Exercises: “What ought I do for Christ?” When we notice a “magic mountain,” where we feel that nothing we do will change what we are facing, we can take the situation to God and talk to God about it, asking “What ought I do for Christ?” When God reveals to us even the smallest step we can take in order to change the world around us, our call is to act. By doing this, we change the little part of the world around us.
Using Jesus as our model, how might God be calling each of us to change our little part of the world this week?
- Colossians 3:12//Putting on Heartfelt Compassion
- Matthew 28:16-20// The Commissioning of the Disciples
- John 20:19-23// Jesus breathing the Holy Spirit on the Disciples
I’ve been enjoying and have been inspired by reading this series of blog hops on Chris Lowery’s book. But may I humbly request a correction to the reference “magic mountain”. I used to run a foundation trying to help develop livelihood projects for the people there including weaving handbags out of old newspapers and some metalwork. The place is called “Smokey mountain” because of the gases released by the festering garbage and not “magic mountain”
Thanks and God bless your work!