Many years ago, there were t-shirts made with the sentiment that all we needed to learn in life we had learned in kindergarten. While that may not be completely true, there are some lessons we learn early which can guide us throughout our life. One popular nursery rhyme is an example of this, Jack Be Nimble. This traditional nursery rhyme dates back to 18th century England. The origin of this nursery rhyme related to a famous English pirate, Black Jack. Jumping over candlesticks or ‘candle-leaping’ was traditional in England, mostly practiced in the markets and fairs. It was believed to be a good-luck sign to successfully clear the candle without extinguishing the light.
When we look for direction or guidance in our life, we often look to the Lord to light our way. When we follow Christ and our lives express His love we become the light of Christ in our world. But it is not easy to follow. We often have our own thoughts and ideas about what we should or can do in life. Further, we can also question the course of events in our life and work against them. Often when plans go awry, we respond with anxiety, frustration and disappointment.
In Colossians, Paul typifies Christian discipleship in its outward expression: compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, pardon, peace and support. He shows our openness to God’s word and His voice through prayer as our light and guidance for how to respond to life events as a disciple of Christ. Paul encourages us in Colossians 3:2 to think of what is above and not of what is on earth.
Being open to God requires us to be nimble. Members of the Holy Family provide perfect examples for us with how to respond to life events that do not go as planned. Mary questioned the message of the Annunciation but her response was complete openness to God’s will and not her own. Joseph responded to the news of Mary’s pregnancy with concern and a commitment to maintain our Holy Mother’s dignity. But when an angel appeared to him in a dream Joseph listened and responded with trust. Both Joseph and Mary responded to the message of Herod’s threat to their newborn son’s life by abandoning their home and making a difficult journey to flee to Egypt. Scripture tells us throughout Jesus’ life that each member of the Holy Family remained open to God and were nimble in their responses to ensure His will be done.
This past year, with the global pandemic we all experienced the unexpected and a new way of life with illness, loss of loved ones, loss of job, inability to travel, social distancing and more. We see in business, those organizations which were nimble and adapted, were able to succeed amid the pandemic. The same is true for us as disciples of Christ. We must be nimble so that we can be open to God’s voice and follow His will for our lives. Being nimble allows us to listen for His direction and respond appropriately. When we are able to do this, we succeed in keeping the light of Christ burning through our lives.