Discomfort: Our Natural State on Earth

The new semester has begun here at UST Law School and today was our first Weekly Manna gathering of the semester. My friend and colleague Chato Hazelbaker had the reflection spot.

After opening with a reading of St. Matthew’s account of Jesus teaching of the Beatitudes, Chato began by referencing several things in his personal and work life this past week that have created discomfort for him. None of us likes discomfort and we usually try to get ourselves out of a state of discomfort as quickly as we can.

Discomfort, however, Chato noted is the normal state portrayed in the Bible, giving several example. Adam and Eve are thrown out of the garden into a state of discomfort. Noah and his family are certainly more discomforted in the Ark than before. Aaron likewise is pushed from one place to another. In the New Testament, Mary and Joseph are thrown from the state of discomfort in which Jesus is born into another – Egypt – and then another, having to return to Nazareth rather than their home in Bethlehem. And the examples go on.

As much as we don’t like discomfort, Chato suggested, discomfort is our natural state on earth. He spoke of often feeling like he doesn’t belong, doesn’t fit in – a feeling that I understand completely as it is one I experience often. By that he doesn’t mean – doesn’t fit at UST or doesn’t fit in Minneapolis, but doesn’t completely fit here in this world.

Precisely. As Chato spoke, Augustine’s words came to mind: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Or, as my Jesuit friend Joe puts it, we are temporary visitors on this planet, destined for something far greater than this.

Our consolation, Chato reminded us, is Jesus’ promise, and it is that promise that he ended with:

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.

Chato also talked about how God uses our discomfort to our growth, but that is a subject for a different post and I am hoping that Chato himself will share a written version of his comments in one forum or another soon.