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I am not an electrical engineer nor do I understand what electricity is all about. My knowledge is limited to the ability to “plug it in” and believe all will work well. But, I do know everything stops moving, all appliances immediately arrest activity, fans and lights go off, when a transformer is struck by lightning.
I know to beware of vehicles swerving into the poles that bear electrical wires because they bear the hazard of a similar stoppage. I know we need those transforming objects for us to have light and heat or air in our homes, for us to cook and clean, use our computers and perform our daily tasks with relative ease.
When the power goes out, distress enters the area. Immediately, we call the local power company to alert them of the outage. We look for candles to light, in the event the problem persists into the evening hours. We make certain that refrigerator and freezer doors are kept tightly shut so their contents will not spoil.
Optimists see this as a chance to slow our hectic pace and smell the roses. Pessimists view it as an unwelcome obstacle blocking their usual routine. Some ponder the good old days when we were not completely dependent on such things as electricity. Others fret they don’t know what to do with themselves and the unexpected extra time. All hope it will be only a short interruption.
So, it makes sense to me to have a portion of the year set aside to provide specific opportunities to reflect upon the power of transformation and our need to be continually reformed and transformed into the image and likeness of God.
It is a time to ponder who we really are. It is also a time to think about how far we have come from our original blessedness and how we can allow divine transformation to deepen in us.
My recent bout with illness was a transformative time. Thankfully, I was not in dire straits, just sick enough to slow down. Friends and family were quick to give me all sorts of advice about what to do to alleviate the situation. They wanted me to heal, completely and speedily. They wanted the best to happen for me. They were not comfortable with the darkness that had entered my life, the interruption of my daily routine, the obstacle that blocked my normal cheeriness. Known or not, they sought my transformation from an unwell person to the holy wholesomeness of a healthy one. I wanted that change as well.
I am never happy with physical dis-ease. I do not easily accept a diagnosis that incorporates the fact the illness cannot be traced to a specific source. I do not like the side effects of medication I was forced to take to slow the pace of the ailment. I am most disturbed when the remedy always seems to be out of reach.
Perhaps, my angst was I could not control the situation or its outcome. No matter the reason, my “transformer” had been hit by lightning—a swift and sudden inflammation—and my spirit was dark.
Then I remembered another experience I had with transformers. This time it was a little child who led me, with his toy transformers. He wanted me to play with him and brought a bevy of vehicles for our use. They appeared to be trucks of various sorts, until he pushed and pulled and twisted them into a completely different reality. No longer trucks, I witnessed the birth of beings that lay within that exterior. Tall-armed men appeared. Transformation had occurred.
Questions remained. “Which is real, man or truck?” Better yet, “Do they both bear truth?” “Does transformation happen in the dark as well as the light?”
Within recent date, yet another encounter with truth occurred. The encounter brought me closer to complete revelation. My husband and I meet monthly with a group of folks who have lived Cursillo, also known as Emmaus Walk or Pilgrimage. The purpose of the meeting is to share our spiritual journey. At a particular gathering, a common thread emerged.
The talk evolved from one person’s comment: “I know I can’t. God can. I think I’ll let God do it.” Stories abounded. They spoke of human frailty, feelings of emptiness and of needing more, bouts with serious illness that brought us closer to God, observation of the miracles discovered in all God’s creatures—great and small.
As I listened, one thought persisted. There is transforming power in our human fiat—our human and humble statement, “Let it be done to me according to God’s will.” It is our “yes” to God’s will in place of our own.
Whether we come to a situation under the guise of a vehicle ready to drive through unscathed, or as a human armed to do battle with the obstacles before us, we are powered by the ability to be transformed and by our willingness to admit that we can’t do this alone. We are transformed by the faith that God can do the impossible with us, in us, and through us. What remains is the tiniest, but potent, beginning, “I think I’ll let God do it.”
I think I’ll enter my world, the only life I have, transformed by the possibilities God presents. I think I’ll accept the illnesses I receive, not with passive subjugation but with passionate surrender. I think I’ll allow the coincidences in my life become evidence of God’s providence. I think I’ll give God permission to be both subject and object of my acceptance, guide and goal of my life. In the process, thinking becomes being and being transforms action.
Does it sound too difficult or demanding or even impossible? Then, as my friend also stated, “Fake it until you can make it.” It worked for him. I know it will work for me and for you. I know because I believe in the transforming power of fiat.
Fran Salone-Pelletier has a master’s degree in theology and is the author of “Awakening to God: The Sunday Readings in Our Lives” [a trilogy of Scriptural meditations], lead chaplain at Brunswick Community Hospital, religious educator, retreat leader, lecturer and grandmother of four.