I was reading a section of Lisa Cron’s book, “Story Genius,” earlier, and she pointed out the strangeness of this concept. “We have an entire channel devoted solely to the weather, so we’ll know if we should take a sweater when we head to the market,” she writes.
Perhaps it would be more relevant for us students to ponder why all our smart phones come with a weather app that is accessible from the lock screen. Do you like to check the weather for the next day before going to bed? I do. But why?
Cron explained: We crave certainty.
Certainty gives us the ability to plan our lives intentionally, which is good, but if we rely too much on what we think is certain, we don’t allow ourselves any wiggle room.
I recently sat down with Professor John Walker to hear his story (which you can read more about in the feature on his family!), and one part struck me. He was telling me about his time running a retreat center, and he said that every morning he would just go to the chapel and ask, “What do you want me to do today?”
What a concept. I like to sit down at the end of one day and make a detailed schedule of what I am going to do the next day. If I go to the chapel in the morning, I tell God my plans rather than ask his. When I wake up in the morning, I don’t have to ponder what to do; I just do the first thing on my list. Though effective, this doesn’t leave space for surprises.
On the flip side, I was walking toward the caf today with some friends, and the six o’clock bells started up. We stood outside the caf through the third song the bells rang, just listening and enjoying each other’s presence (and body warmth) before parting ways.
The latter was a little moment, but it was a meaningful one which I will remember better than any detail on my to-do list.
There are many things this semester that have been uncertain for me, and it was in those instances that God provided most abundantly.
Do you remember the 50-cent fundraiser that was in the J.C. a couple weeks back? I am a part of the magazine that was trying to raise the money, and we were very uncertain as to whether we would have enough funding to print the 1,000 magazines. In our uncertainty, God provided, and we ended up able to print 50 more than our goal.
I think our God loves surprises, and when we focus on our uncertainty, we don’t necessarily register the blessings. Something I’ve discovered this semester is that it really is okay to not know everything. Sometimes the not-knowing makes little things even better. For example, I’m glad I didn’t check the weather before the first snow of this winter. I opened my curtain that Tuesday morning and gasped in awe at the unanticipated beauty.
College presents us with many uncertainties. Will my professor give me a study guide for the final? Will the class I need be offered next semester? Will confessions be cancelled again?
Yet, there are very few things in life we really need to be certain of, and they’re going to start popping up in the Mass readings as we enter Advent. You’re probably getting ready to go home for Thanksgiving, but the most important certainty we ought to focus on is the certainty of the true home for which we are destined and the loving Father who is summoning us to himself.
The future is foggy; we don’t need a weather app to tell us that. We can only see so far ahead of us, and even that is uncertain. No matter how much we plan, just like tomorrow’s weather forecast, our plans will most likely have to adjust in some way anyways. So, why do we try to remedy uncertainty by putting so much weight on our plans? As for me, as much as I want to plan perfectly, I’d rather lean on the divine Planner than on the plans of my own design.