Do you remember the children’s story Chicken Little? It is about a hen who becomes convinced that the sky is falling. She wandered to and fro, telling everyone in the barnyard in terms dire and ominous, that the sky was falling. All the while she kept casting a furtive glance heavenward, anxiously waiting for the end. It is fairly comical as a child’s story.
Chicken Little is not quite so amusing as an exercise in spirituality. Yet, we fall into that trap often enough in our personal lives. We can fall into that easily enough in our life as participants in organizations also. How much energy is spent and unprofitably wasted on the fear factor. Yet, when we find ourselves consumed with visions of the end, without hope, and with despair, we are caught up in the more adult version of Chicken Little. Nothing hastens the end quite like a preoccupation with it. Jesus through his Church teachers us that it is important to keep ourselves focused on mission, pastoral care and outreach. For unless we learn to be focused on those life giving things, human nature is such that we shall soon succumb to the Chicken Little mentality: sitting around, wring our hands and waiting for what we perceive may be the inevitable. Here’s some news: The sky is not falling; the Holy Spirit is falling.
Some years ago I was at a Diocesan function in Chicago, and one of the Canons there, known for a keen and caustic wit, was heard to remark: “We may as well rearrange the deck chairs, for are we not all on the Titanic . . .” That is a prime example of Chicken Little Spirituality at the most extreme.
Learning to live by faith is learning to apply a certain amount of self-discernment. Part of that self-discernment is to pay attention to the voices that we hear. And whenever we hear the voice suggesting that the sky is falling, hasten to remember: it is the Holy Spirit that is falling. Try noticing that Jesus is at work.