What Can We Learn From Anniversaries?

by | Apr 16, 2021 | Formation, Reflections, Vincentian Family

We all have anniversaries in our lives. But WHY do we celebrate them? What can we learn?

Anniversaries mark birthdays, weddings, friendships, momentous events, the death of a loved one, etc. They remind us of something that matters to us.

Whatever the anniversary, it gives us a chance to look back over the years since the event we’re marking, and reflect on how it has shaped us. Remembering the past (but without letting it rule us) can be an important part of understanding who we are. https://theawarenesscentre.com/anniversaries/

This week marks the one-year anniversary of Vincentian Mindwalk. This post began as a simple expression of gratitude for all of you who have traveled with me. Each Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I have invited you to walk the corridors of inquiry. That amounts to just over two hundred explorations.

Given the exploratory nature of these Mindwalks, it seems appropriate to use this anniversary to explore how “mindwalking” has shaped me this past year… and even over past decades.

How has “mindwalking” shaped me?

Mindwalking is an evocative way of exploring the meaning of events in our lives. The name of the process has changed over the years. The process remains essentially the same. See – Judge – Act.

In this COVID restricted year writing these posts has been a blessing for me It has kept me not only busy but, more importantly mentally and spiritually alive. Also, coping with decreasing mobility I have discovered an unexpected form of digital ministry. In the beginning I spoke of offering a place where Vincentian spirits could explore what was important to them above the noise and tumult of social media. Learning how highly engaged you are has motivated me.

What really surprised me, however, is the realization of how much this has been a part of my many decades as a priest. I have, in effect, been “mindwalking” for some 50 years.

Mindwalking is really another name for theological or apostolic reflection.

Initially for me, it took the form of supervising seminarians as they got their shoes muddy in their fledgling experiences of ministry. Back then we called it “field education.” When I began teaching at St. John’s University, I used the technique first at the graduate level in a seminar called ‘theological reflection.”

Later I introduced a restricted undergraduate version– “Christian Leadership.” I am delighted to say that I am still in contact with some of those students. They have gone on to be leaders in academia and ministry. I periodically receive a “reflection paper” from a Sister now in her 90’s. She continues to use the process to sort out issues in her life.

Being a slow learner, it took me another decade or so to realize that my most effective homilies were personal theological reflections. St. Vincent was on to something with his famous little method of preaching. It took me even longer to realize how reflection influenced my way of praying.

I have also come to appreciate that Pope Francis walks a similar path. His daily homilies, weekly catechetical instructions and even his major theological writings follow the see-judge-act path.

My hopes for your future

I invite you to choose some anniversary or event in your life. See – Judge – Act! Look beneath the surface. Mindwalking is a way of discovering what you might have missed. It is to “put on the mind of Christ.

P.S. For those who wish to take the process further I recommend a recent FamVin reflection A simple guide for Apostolic Reflection