Lo que será, será

We’re now at midyear -- a good time to review our resolutions and efforts

Six months ago, you were toasting the new year 2024. Six months from now, hopefully you will say goodbye to 2024 and welcome the new year 2025, the quarter century mark.

We just celebrated Midsummer’s Night on June 21-22. We’re now at midyear. “Midsummer” you say? Wasn’t it just the first day of summer? In a sense, yes; in a sense, no. As regards the latter, think of spring as a prelude to summer (and fall as a prelude to winter).

Starting back on March 19, each day grew longer than each night. That stopped June 21-22. Since then, while the weather may be warmer, each night slowly gains on each day until, come the first day of autumn, they will be equal. There’s a reason Americans informally consider Memorial Day weekend the start of summer (and Labor Day its end); if you’ve waited till now, you’re already on summer’s back end.

The same is true of July 1. Now there are fewer days left to 2024 than days lived. More of 2024 is out of our reach than within our grasp. More of 2024 — for better or worse — is what it is.

Which brings us back to the old “new year’s resolution” question. Assuming our resolutions are not merely ritual window dressing but a serious effort to take stock of our passing time and lives, midyear is a time for review. As just noted, more of 2024 is fixed than indeterminate. It can’t be changed.

Among the American actress and singer Doris Day’s hits was the song Que sera, sera (Whatever will be, will be). It’s a nice song and it also has a message for those of our day who aspire to be control freaks.

Still, the song is fundamentally wrong. A better and more accurate song would be “Lo que será, será” (Whatever was, was).

People in general and Catholics in particular sometimes obsess over the past, fixate on what they have done. But, as the French poet Charles Péguy observed: Make your examen, resolve to do better, and go to sleep. The day has been lived, for good or for ill, and it does not have to be (and can’t anyway) be lived again. If it was lived wrongly, well, you shouldn’t have done that when you had the choice to do that. Now your only choice is one of repentance and amendment. So, in that sense, put the past aside (by doing whatever of repentance and amendment is required to do that) but focus on the future.

“Que sera, sera” is true only to a point — to the degree that “men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead…” says Scrooge to the Ghost of Christmas Future (a little less than six months in your future, as we just celebrated the Nativity of St. John the Baptist). Our freedom is “situated,” as the Dutch Jesuit theologian Piet Schoonenberg once remarked. But “situated” is not fixed, “what will be” must not necessarily have to be. The past is set; the future remains to be molded. “But if [men’s] courses be departed from,” adds Scrooge, “the ends will change.” Yes, they can. That is the meaning of conversion (and “The Christmas Carol” is first and foremost a story of conversion). That’s a good message from A Christmas Carol in July.

That’s what midyear — these few days’ break for many Americans around the Fourth of July — can be used for. Half a year is gone; there’s half a year to go. Six months ago, you made resolutions. Have they gone anywhere? If they have, fine. If they haven’t, you still have half a year to go.

Time slips by faster than we reckon. Only little children can’t wait to “grow up.” As one satirist noted, only kids tell you they’re “seven and three-quarters” or “nine and a half.” When we grow up, time seems to accelerate while our addition gets worse (e.g., staying at age “29”).

But denial does not change reality. Children grow up and leave. Decades go by. Sooner rather than later we begin to hear our parents in ourselves.

That’s why it’s important to mark things like “midyear,” not in the sense that they are some holiday or celebration, but they are time’s “mile markers” that point out just how far we’ve traveled down the road — and maybe we need to recheck our maps or GPS. The one thing not to do: just keep driving, refusing to check or ask directions.

 

John M. Grondelski (Ph.D., Fordham) was former associate dean of the School of Theology, Seton Hall University, South Orange, New Jersey. All views expressed herein are exclusively his.

From The Narthex

The Last Shakers

In the late sixties, I stayed a weekend at a Bruderhof and then hoped to…

'Good Wife, Wise Mother'

Shimoda Utako is probably not a household name in America. She isn’t very well known…

My Boys as Sign and Gift

My boys who live in the Village at Misericordia, in Chicago, are a sign to…