BY ERIC CLAYTON | September 2, 2021
Our three-year-old begins preschool next week.
“Can I bring my phone?” she asked, referring to the plastic toy she carries around the house.
“No,” I said. “You’ll lose it.”
“But what if I need to call you?”
I paused; she had a point. Again, though, she was referring to a plastic toy.
“Your teachers will call us,” I said finally. “If there’s an emergency.”
She nodded. That made sense. And then she proceeded down the list of other completely unnecessary items she wanted to bring with her: stuffed unicorns, princess jewelry, the usual.
It was a funny moment, and my wife and I chuckled. It stuck in my mind, though, and I’ve turned it over, reflecting. On the one hand, this is probably a symptom of the over-reliance on and constant checking of cell phones in our house. And that’s fair.
But on the other hand, my daughter is pointing to a very human need: communication. But what if I need you…?
This week, my prayer has been preoccupied by the tragic headlines we see in the news: destruction and disagreement, suffering and sacrifice, from Afghanistan to Louisiana, from hospital rooms to classrooms.
The general chaos of the moment—built on so many moments of chaos from the past many months—is enough to make you throw up your hands, to give up on peace and progress and any hope of a better, brighter future.
And yet, I return to that silly story of my daughter and her plastic phone.
Because I think we get so caught up in policies and ideologies and big, sweeping decisions, it’s easy to lose sight of our own, albeit small role. It might not be for us to affect foreign policy on peacebuilding, but we can still manifest that peace to others in our everyday lives.
We can listen. We can be available. We can maintain those lines of open communication.
When we hear the cry—But what if I need you?—we can be the ones who respond.
St. Ignatius teaches us that God is always available, always present, always eager to enter into conversation with us and celebrate in our joy and mourn in our sorrow. We are made in the image and likeness of this God, a God who listens carefully.
We are called to manifest that Divine trait for others. Let that be our contribution to this moment of great need.
This piece was originally sent as an email by the Jesuit Conference of Canada and U.S., as a part of a weekly series sharing tools and reflection resources in the tradition of Ignatian spirituality. Subscribe to receive these emails here!
Eric Clayton is the deputy communications director at the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, responsible for developing and sharing resources and reflections to promote Ignatian spirituality. He is the author of the forthcoming book Cannonball Moments: Telling Your Story, Deepening Your Faith (Loyola Press). He and his wife are both graduates of Fairfield University and live in Baltimore, MD, with their two daughters.