as our hearts expand, our expectations contract

6. Our hearts expand as expectations contract. What about those great deeds we meant to do? Like many Jesuits, I once shared a fondness for knights on horses: the teams of Canisius High School in Buffalo, N.Y., were the Crusaders; McQuaid High School in Rochester had the Knights. All Jesuits aspire to do great things, I suppose: win over kingdoms and do battle with evil, like our founder Ignatius did. But as our hearts expand, our expectations contract. And the demons we fight can take strange shapes. What are we to do when we find the demons within us? These battles are not jousting contests, easily decided when one of the combatants is unseated, but long and painful campaigns in which it is not easy to tell whether one is winning or losing.

Old-timers may be battle-weary, but we are still swinging our swords. To put it another way, we have the same shortcomings, the same rough edges and pettiness as ever, but this just does not seem as important to us as it used to. While regretting that we are not better, we can integrate all we are into our offering to the Lord. As the years go by, my prayer increasingly is simply, “Lord, kindly accept the little I have to offer.” No dragons slain, no heads of enemies dangling from the belt, but we are still in for the whole campaign, however long it takes.

What could be simpler than that? So, maybe we elders have something to say to younger people, after all. I wish I could remember what it is.

Francis X. Hezel, S.J. offers 6 reflections on living life after seven decades. What little do you have to offer? Do you want to be a knight on a horse? How big are your expectations? How big is your heart?

 

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