By Amber Kinloch
“Do you know,” said Anne confidentially, “I’ve made up my mind to enjoy this drive. It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will” (Chapter 5, Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery).
In this scene, eleven-year-old Anne is facing the prospect of being sent back to an orphan asylum because she is not the boy the Cuthberts planned to adopt to help them with work on their farm. Anne’s life has not been a happy one up to this point—nobody has seemed to want her, a lonely, red-headed scarecrow of an orphan girl. And now she once again is faced with being potentially rejected. Nevertheless, Anne possesses an indomitable spirit, choosing to make the best of things rather than letting them discourage her.
It’s an invaluable lesson for all of us. So many feel crushed and overwhelmed when faced with world events or personal problems. Optimism, joy, hope, charity…the whole beautiful scope of virtues seems to be in short supply. Yet as Catholics, we’re called to remain strong and cheerful. The Cross and suffering are not something shocking to us nor yet something we tolerate with stoic resignation. Rather, they are an essential part of our Christian journey as we seek to imitate Christ.
An outsider might think that Catholics must be a miserable lot. Not so! Christ did not come only to suffer. Rather, by becoming incarnate, He transformed the whole of ordinary human life. As Caryll Houselander observes, “No man ever enjoyed life as He [Christ] did. He gathered up the colour, sound, touch, meaning of everything about Him and united it all to the most exquisite sensitiveness, the most pure capacity for delight” (The Reed of God, pg. 101, emphasis mine).
During this Easter season, we might do well to reflect on this matter of enjoying life even amidst our sorrows and troubles. We might start by practicing the virtue of patience which “enables us to bear suffering without being broken by sorrow or led to forsake the way of virtue. Patience preserves a certain cheerfulness and peace of mind in the face of injury, suffering, and sadness. It preserves us from being ‘dis-couraged’—from losing courage” (The Art of Living by Edward Sri, pg. 136).
We might also consciously seek out joy. Try walking outside. I feel so rich when I go roaming about my neighborhood. I cannot help but think of the parable of the Prodigal Son and the Father telling his elder son, “everything I have is yours” (Luke 15:31). That is how I feel when walking in the midst of creation. God didn’t have to make the world beautiful, but He did, and He did so for us.
Enjoy the Easter season and strive to live the Resurrection, real time, as Vir Christi suggested. Live the present moment with hope and delight in life. As Anne reminds us, it’s our choice whether we enjoy life or not. Let’s choose wisely as befits our Christian calling.
The song below is a great reminder of the adventure life is and how we can change our outlook if only we choose to.
Amber writes from the bunker of her living room. There she hunkers down with her laptop and a blanket while keeping an eye and ear tuned in to the activity of family life. Music set on loop keeps her energy flowing as she muses on the deeper happenings of ordinary life and what food to restock the fridge with.