We are a clouded people, but our true values show us the way forward

The weather recently in Melbourne has been incredibly cold! The mornings have been frosty and overcast, although the sun has come through on some days. Melbourne isn’t bringing its locals much comfort via the weather – unless you have a particular fondness for cold weather!

Waking up to the already biting cold, the incoming dread of how cold it must be outside your home, having a peek out the window to see a very hazy horizon – I can’t help but feel it’s a bit like how many of us are feeling in the haze of the last few years.

Our outlook towards both the present and the future has become blurred. We had become accustomed to going without so many things in the last few years, and now that they have become possible again we are overwhelmed by the amount of choice that our privilege offers us.

Something I have been considering lately is how often the plethora of choices that we have, can become what clouds us from having gratitude towards what we already do have, or gratitude for the amount of choice we have.

Rather than having gratitude for the warm house we have, or even the gratitude for having a home, we are caught up in the fact that we are still cold.

Rather than having gratitude for the ability to get and afford groceries for ourselves, we get frustrated with the traffic milling around the shopping centre as we look for a park, and then are further disappointed at our preferred brand being out of stock – never mind the five other brands available of that item.

Our modern lives are so full of conveniences that we often take for granted!

So we find ourselves in the tension – what is our preference? What do we value? What do we have gratitude for? Or do we move throughout our life expressing very little gratitude unless explicitly asked?

How can we adopt this outlook of gratitude? It’s not easy and to not always have this outlook isn’t to say we are ungrateful people – we are clouded people, we have allowed our outlook to become crowded as we obsess over our often busy and noisy lives. We do not make time for what we truly value – our faith, our relationships with friends and family, our gifts and talents.

Rather, we hang value on our status, our career, and the constant feeling of inadequacy towards both the tangible and intangible aspects of our lives.

Throughout this period of uncertainty, we continue to go through we are strained in our capacity to manage the many aspects of our lives and strained in our capacity to be grateful.

Though, one thing we can take refuge and certainty in is our Salesian charism. In the Australia-Pacific province as we approach 2023, 100 years since the beginning – the same Salesian Spirit has withstood the many trials of the last 100 years, as a society, as a congregation, and as individuals.

Despite all else, we have continued to acknowledge our faults, our shortcomings, and frustration towards life – and looked again to the needs of the young in all that we do.

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2022 edition of the Salesian Bulletin, which is available now!