Celtic spirituality offers a unique image for when an individual or community faces a major choice in life. It is roughly translated as trasna, or crossing. This involves a choice that is life changing. It is not a choice of whether to buy a car or a pair of shoes, etc., life changing as these may be for a while! It isn’t even as challenging a decision as what school to attend or what place of worship to join. Trasna reaches into your core. It offers mostly two different paths, both are often good, but only one of them will reach a spirituality which wants to grow, yearning to flourish in you, helping you find who you really are. When you make the trasna, you cross over to the person God wants you to be. For example: Do I commit myself to this one person for life? Or, do I accept the challenge of an ordained, single, or consecrated life? Sometimes a major career change or the decision to retire is a time of trasna. When you honestly face trasna in your life, you make your choice with prayer, discernment, advice from another, and a big dose of courage! You make a radical choice to be or do something entirely different from your current mode of life.
I believe that institutions and even corporations frequently face a moment of trasna, a turning point for the better. I believe that Vatican II was a trasna point in the Catholic Church; it offered compelling reasons for changes which the individual could accept or not. The changes were made with the best interest of the spirituality of the believer in mind. The ancient philosopher, Aristotle, held that flourishing was an innate goal of every human being and in order to flourish one had to make life-changing decisions that would lead to natural excellence and happiness. The most noble goal in life, according to Aristotle, was to flourish, to make one’s life complete through physical, emotional, social, and rational gifts fully and honestly used. To do so, he said, we need other human beings; we cannot cross over to greater goodness and completeness without being for others and learning from others.
I believe our country and our church are at trasna moments now. The pandemic and the political upheaval have brought us to a vortex of a perfect storm. Consequently, changes are developing in all of our institutions. Business, government, education, and our religions will never be the same. I see great signs of hope in this upheaval. But none of us knows what our life and these institutions will look like for years to come. Here are the important questions: Am I able to cross over without anger in losing that which gave me temporary assurance? Am I able to surrender my comfort in order to help others or to take a stand on their behalf?
Think about the trasna moment facing the apostles and disciples after Pentecost. They knew they had to give up everything beginning with their careers. Do you think it was easy to give up a successful business in fishing, a profitable career in tax collecting, a settled career in farming or carpentry? Do you think the women who followed Jesus could keep a family together while taking on this new role of preaching his message, and providing the charity needed for the poor? We assume these people were uneducated. They were not among the learned scholars in the Temple. As Jews, they had no positions of even the most minor authority under Roman leadership. I believe that if there had been business consultants at the time, the disciples would have been guided not to go on with their plan. Imagine for a moment leaving everything you spent your life working for, and being much older now, you face a trasna choice which co-workers, family, and friends do not understand. You follow the teaching of your itinerant Rabbi because you believe he elevates all of the concerns of this gritty world you love to embrace. The Romans and the temple officials do not do this.
The Acts of the Apostles illuminates some of this for us. C’mon: “Hold everything in common; do not claim anything as your own.” Are you kidding? No IRA? No estate plan? All who owned property or houses had to sell them and place the proceeds at the “feet of the apostles.” No, no, no. And, by the way, just as promised, there will be martyrdom for you. Who’s in? Every hand goes up! They are at trasna and they choose not to turn back.
Reflect on the trasna moments in your life. Do you now see how God worked in your choice to move in a direction that made you grow and made you more fully aware, flourishing, in the gifts God has given you?
This is an important topic to think about these days. Please share, even anonymously, your trasna moments so that others may be encouraged. God bless all of you, my known and Anonymous Angels. Every comment helps someone else! What was your trasna moment?