By Nimmi Candappa
With the finding of the little girl Cleo Smith last week in Western Australia, we had a chance as a wider community to allow ourselves to be thrilled, to really feel the joy of this happy ending amidst much of the difficulties we have faced of late. Some of us might have dared to hope for this outcome, others braced for bad news, and now, a silent relief. Street-hardened police officers, suave politicians, and detached TV reporters all spoke with moistened eyes at the “miracle” of finding Cleo alive and unharmed.
Was there a small voice in us though that whispered, “finally, a prayer answered”, remembering all the other such situations replayed over and over again on the media when we might have prayed for the missing person’s wellbeing but didn’t have this happy ending.
Faced with repeated disappointments in life, or a series of unanswered prayers, or one struggle after another with little reprieve, it is easy to harden ourselves to avoid feeling the full brunt of it. We might lower our hopes to lessen the fall, or pray but not really expect much. Similarly, hearing of how an ordinary camping trip can turn into such a frightening possibility, or receiving daily updates on the somewhat indiscriminate toll of COVID on the world, we can allow ourselves to grow wary. Convince ourselves that we need to protect ourselves at all costs.
Life around us can challenge our complete trust of God, yet St Eugene shows us that we can safely trust God. That doing the ‘sensible’ is not always the best option in life. When he left his comfortable life and comfortable dreams to minister to the poor and abandoned – eventually founding one of the largest religious orders – he shows us that God can be trusted. When he gave from the little he had, sending priests to meet overseas needs at a time he could barely meet his local pastoral needs – then eventually seeing the number of his Oblate priests spread to over 60 countries – he shows us that God can be trusted.
St Eugene also reminds us of the importance of continuing to keep ourselves open to the emotions of life, good and bad. Known for his fiery temper, ready apologies, big-heartedness, daring, compassion, and sensitivity, St Eugene gives us an example of living life wholly and fully, trusting that all we experience allow us to grow in our relationship with God.
In the next fortnight, when we spend a few moments before bed each evening thinking of the day gone by, consider telling Jesus briefly of any difficult or uncomfortable experiences you faced. Chat to him about how you dealt with these, the pain, the fear, allowing him to be the soothing balm, the reset button.