Where I grew up there were alleys.
That may sound like a description of the obvious, but not every town has alleys, and if they do, they usually are in the older sections. In my youth they were the regular pathways for the comings and goings of neighborhood kids. Alleys provided the “short-cuts” in getting to places. Going into a house from the street side was the exception, not only because the front door was usually locked but also because the back door opened up to the kitchen where the refrigerator with all the snacks could be raided.
In walking down alleys a whole different perspective on houses and their families was revealed. You noticed whether tools and toys were taken care of or abandoned and broken. It was in the alley that rubbish and garbage containers were located for pick up, unlike today where they are put out in the front of houses for all to see. Alleys became the places where you put things that didn’t have any other place to be. Now, the garages built on the front of houses is where all that “stuff” goes, replacing the spaces designed for cars. And, garages were built in alleys creating regular thoroughfares in and out of the house as well as hubs of activity and conversation. In other words, alleys expanded and enhanced the world in which I grew up!
Maybe this reminiscence of alleys can pose the question of what expands and enhances the world in which we live. Living in the wide open spaces of Wisconsin naturally creates an appreciation of water, woods and wild life. The demarcation of the seasons reminds us of creation’s dynamic character. Indeed, this inclusive embrace of life is a paradigm of our spiritual life, i.e., when the great spiritual writer, Karl Rahner, talked about the vision of faith, he used the word “horizon.” Like looking at the limitless view of the horizon, where our vision is all-embracing and inclusive, faith takes in all that creation offers. Each dimension reveals an ever widening awareness of the mystery and beauty of life and God. As Pope Francis so beautifully states: “As Christians, we are also called to accept the world as a sacrament of communion, as a way of sharing with God and our neighbors on a global scale. It is our humble conviction that the divine and the human meet in the slightest detail in the seamless garment of God’s creation, in the last speck of dust of our planet.” (Laudato Si #9)
So what contributes to your spiritual horizon? It may be as easy as walking down an alley!
– Fr. Dennis Lynch