Sunday, September 16, 2012

Stumbling Stones becoming Stepping Stones

We come across all kinds of obstacles in daily life. Some are called stumbling stones; others are called stepping stones. Writing in a bulletin for priests, a pastor reflects on the results such 'stones' may have in a person's life.

A 90-year old grandmother in his parish, who rarely misses Mass, met with him to discuss a problem in the family.  Among her many children her daughter's husband  died and shortly the daughter  died, leaving the grandmother  to raise their two children. One child, who attends morning Mass with her, is mentally handicapped; the other had been in a car accident 10 years ago and now solves his problems by excessive drinking; both are unmarried.

The grandmother wanted the priest to make contact with city hall to find out what they would suggest for her grandson's drinking problem. The priest did arrange for a rehab program but when the grandmother talked it over with her grandson and was told he was not interested, she asked the priest to cancel the program. It was then that he began wondering  whether the grandchildren were stumbling stones or stepping stones for the grandmother.

If we look, he says, only at the heartaches and the worries, the grandchildren can be seen as stumbling stones. If we look, instead, at this troubling situation as an opportunity to bring added meaning into the grandmother's life, then the grandsons, even though causing her much grief, can be seen as stepping stones.

In each life there is bound to be many obstacles, but whether they become stumbling stones or stepping stones will  depend on the way we accept the troubling situations. When we rest in the knowledge of God's love, the priest says, stumbling stones can become stepping stones.

Philippians (4:6-7) tells us "Dismiss all anxiety from your minds. Present your needs to God in every form of prayer and in petitions full of gratitude. Then God's own  peace, which is beyond all understanding, will stand guard over your hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus."

It's helpful to meditate on the chameleon-like nature of the obstacles that come into our life. When we fully realize that how we behave is largely determined by how we see reality, and while resting in the peace beyond all understanding, turning stumbling stones into stepping stones will become commonplace. 

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