aspirations not goals

when asked, i have a stock answer to the question, “what are your goals?” my response is, “i stopped making goals for myself a long time ago”. if i am feeling playful, i might follow up with, “i thought that i would be in california for a couple of years (after college), come back to seattle, go to UW and get my mba, settle down with a nice gal and buy seattle supersonic season tickets. and now, i am a celibate priest living in (insert somewhere in california, texas, chicago, or prescott) and the sonics turned into the OKC thunder” (in my bitterness, i call them the blunder)

yes– i still think even today: tickets to the sonics was not a bad goal.

there’s the old joke that if you want to make God laugh, tell God what plans you have for your life. it’s funny to me because it’s true.

perhaps it is only in retrospect that God’s providential graces can be truly appreciated.

i give thanks to the Lord for being a claretian priest and all of the wonderful experiences and people that i have met in my life. my various assignments over the years have been dependent on the situation of the province ministries. often, these have been ministries in places that would not have been a “goal” or something i would have chose on my own. but looking back, there is an understandable flow from one to the other. life is connected through the Spirit.

God’s “plans” are best because God walks with us in whatever we choose.

the above axiom has been part of my life. so instead of plans for my life, i have aspirations. one personal aspiration is detention ministry. i have an affinity with people in jails/prisons; i also think that i have some gifts to offer to people who are incarcerated. my first experience with detention ministry was in seminary: i used to play guitar at the inmates’ sunday service. i still smile when i think of them belting out with heart-felt emotion the song “pass me not”. before we would close the service, we would invite the guys who were getting out that coming week to come up for a few words and a blessing. these were touching, emotional moments when we all knew that God was present in love.

so over the years, i have thought that it would be wonderful to work in detention ministry. i have only been able to volunteer for this outreach from time to time. i’ve never have been assigned even part-time in a jail or prison. an aspiration indeed.

nor had i ever planned to help take care for my 97 year old mother. i am still trying to figure out what the Spirit is teaching me in this very different, often mundane, day-to-day existence. i really do not think that i am wired to be a caregiver– i am wired to be a missionary. but today, i aspire to be a good son to my aging mother. perhaps the Lord is trying to teach me new ways of doing God’s will.

God’s “plans” are the best plans. my axiom is being tested in new ways…

Holy Spirit, enliven our hopes and dreams. strengthen us in our human weakness and heal our hearts. give us the eyes to see your loving, providential hand leading and guiding us each step of our journey of life. Lord, help us aspire to do your will and bring forth your kingdom. mary, pray for us and give us your heart to share with all we encounter this day.


  1. Nancy says:

    Father Art, I found your musing quite inspiring. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.


  2. DC says:

    God’s “plans” are best because God walks with us in whatever we choose.

    Yup. Exactly. Yup.


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s