Dear Pope Francis,
This week, I have been reflecting on how you wasted no time in speaking out about the issues that you are passionate about, or taking the first steps to enact change. The word ‘steps’ reminded me of a talk that I had heard at a conference during my grade 12 year. The name of the speaker escapes me now, but I remember him telling a very familiar story: a story about children having a playdate while their mothers chat over coffee.
When the coffee is gone, Mother calls up the stairs: “five more minutes and then it’s time to clean up.” The kids scramble to play as much as possible in those five minutes (which usually stretches into ten or more). Then they hear the dreaded footsteps on the stairs or in the hall, and the playing is even more frantic. When Mother appears in the doorway, the kids beg for five more minutes. “But, we just started playing!” they protest. If they’re lucky, Mother will relent and let them have more time, and they play furiously, squeezing every ounce of fun out of those minutes. This is repeated until Mother won’t give in, and it really is time to clean up and go.
Don’t be like those kids, the speaker told us, don’t wait until you hear the footsteps on the stairs or in the hall to play hard. Play hard from the very first minute.
So many times in my life, I have fallen into this trap of waiting until the end of something to really give it my all, like waiting until my last two years of my BA to get involved in the Chaplaincy Centre on campus. I think there is something to be said for settling into a place and testing the waters before swimming into the deep and making waves. But I can also trick myself into complacency. I claim that I am choosing not to get involved because I’m settling in, when really I’m scared, overwhelmed and uncomfortable in my surroundings.
I imagining becoming the leader of one of the largest religious organizations in the world would have been an overwhelming experience, not to mention being confronted with the multitude of challenges and issues facing the Church. That didn’t seem to bother you, though. You started taking action right away. You talked with people, and acted in surprising ways. You didn’t wait until you had settled into your new role, catching up on paperwork and learning the routines before you made the papcy your own. You started playing hard from your very first moments, when you asked the faithful to bless you and pray for you.
As I’ve been reflecting over this week, I have felt inspired to look for those areas where I’m not really playing hard, where I’m shying away and being complacent. One of the things I’ve realized is that I don’t actually like being complacent. I want to make the most of the time I have. I don’t hear the footsteps coming just yet, but I know they will be soon.
While no one can say how long you will hold this office, I pray that the footsteps aren’t approaching just yet.