Should’ve, Could’ve, Would’ve

Fr. Kevin Dillon

Fr. Kevin Dillon is the Pastor of St. Boniface Martyr Parish, Sea Cliff, Long Island, NY.

At some point in our lives these three words have probably been a part of our conversation, and more often than not they express regret on the speaker’s part. It is fair to say that all of us live with some sort of regrets, some more serious than others.  It is a part of human nature, so we should not beat ourselves up unnecessarily, but perhaps become more conscious of future life giving and life affirming opportunities.

As most of you know, I made my annual retreat last month at Campion Retreat and Renewal Center in Weston, Massachusetts and while on retreat an interesting poster caught my attention on one of the office doors.  It read, “Live Life; Take Chances; Be Crazy; Don’t Wait because right now is the oldest you have ever been and the youngest you will ever be again”   To some this may sound a bit risky and I suppose it is but on the other hand,  there is definitely a degree of truth to the statement.  A lot of times when faced with a new challenge or the possibility of some sort of change in our lives we hold back.  While it is always good to give some prudent thought to our decisions, sometimes we pass on some new and life giving adventures.  Many times, after the fact we then say to ourselves, “I should have done that; I could have done that or I would have done that but… but what?  In many circumstances fear gets in the way. We get comfortable with things and the thought of something different causes some anxiety for us.  The most basic reason for hesitating and declining something new is often based simply on FEAR!  As human beings and creatures of habit, we simply don’t like change!  Change, however, is inevitable.  We see that especially in technology.

Generally speaking, we are afraid of the unknown.  Will I like it?  Will I be a success?  These are just a few of the questions we might raise on something new.  Yet, time and time again, Jesus is always calling us to change and new possibilities to further build the Kingdom here on earth.  The Scriptures are filled with the words and wisdom of Jesus to follow Him.  Just look at when He called the Twelve Apostles to follow Him; they let go of everything and it was not until after His resurrection that they knew what it meant for them and all people, ETERNAL LIFE, but even before we reach heaven how blessed we are on earth to know Him and how His Spirit comforts and guides us in our daily activities!  Think about the rich young man in scripture; he ultimately went away sad because he was probably AFRAID.  What might he have been afraid of?  Fear of letting go, fear of failure, fear of less freedom just to name a few examples.  I have often wondered if the young man regretted his decision not to embark upon this adventure of a lifetime.  We will never know.

A few weeks ago, I had regret, or at least I thought I did until some people put some sense into me.  I wanted to take part in an event that my Trainer was sponsoring called The Rugged Maniac. I thought it sounded interesting and fun and I like to try new and challenging things.  It is a series of obstacle courses almost like Army or Marine Training.  Originally, I declined the invitation because of shoulder issues, but then on the day of the event I was upset I did not accept the challenge.  I thought of it as a missed opportunity.  However, when I found out that a number of people, one of whom was my age and another who was only 30 had some injuries afterward, I thought it probably was good that I did not participate. Who knows; I might right now be saying to my Trainer, “I should have listened better and taken your advice to not participate!”   He and others have told me there are other ways to move out of your comfort zone besides this, and they are right!

Think about some missed opportunities in your lives this week.  What might you have not done that you now wish you had done?  Some things only come along once in life, and perhaps they are invitations by GOD to deepen our experience and relationship with HIM.  These are missed opportunities of grace.

Perhaps there are opportunities to forgive someone or reach out to a friend you have not spoken to in a long time, or to simply tell someone you love them.  Maybe God is calling someone in this parish to Religious Life, the Permanent Diaconate, or Priesthood.  Believe it or not, there are age limitations for all of these vocation choices.

In the blink of an eye, everything can change.  So forgive often and love with all your heart.  You may never know when you may not have the chance again!

Fr. Kevin’s letter appears each week in print and online in the St. Boniface Martyr Parish Bulletin.

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