Think INSIDE the box



By Judith Costello

Many in my generation, and since, have grown up with slogans used as if they were virtues: Question Authority, Think Outside the Box, Be Yourself, I Did it MY Way. For me, as a baby boomer, these slogans were acted upon. This path led to seeking self-authority and independence from tradition. I am, after all, an artist — a creative person who thinks outside the box always!

A box made by Judith Costello.

Over time, this path of independence led to feeling “unmoored.” I was detached from church, history and many authority figures. I had no anchor. It’s like being in a boat with no place to set down an anchor, no place to call home.

It took a long while for me to learn these slogans of independence are NOT virtues. It can become a focus on ME rather than the US of community. Lately, I have been wondering if this trend toward breaking away from the past has been a significant contributor to the rise in depression and moral chaos.


It has taken time for me to realize that we are meant for community. We are meant to think INSIDE the box—inside the church, inside the home, inside tradition. Yes, we need to use our faculties of reason and creativity. But sometimes reason is not enough. Sometimes we, alone, are not enough. We need one another. We should never throw out Tradition, history and sacred truths in the name of independent thinking.

So, I have started making boxes. It’s something I used to do as an art therapist. What is on the outside comes from the world. On the inside is the space for God. Real treasure is “inside the box.” Seek the truth that comes from heaven.

A boy I knew, who had a terribly scarred chest, ribs that protruded and a bald head from a long battle with cancer, loved boxes. He just loved them. They were a symbol of something valuable—the treasure chest. It was a symbol of belonging. Belonging to God. Corey died at age 12 but he knew that the real treasure is in heaven.

We can go inside the church, inside the community/unity, inside the truth. And from there comes real freedom. Because real freedom comes from above.

A Lenten resolution for all of us might be to attend one of the many missions that will be held in the diocese and to bring someone along with us who has strayed from the faith. We just might find it refreshing to think/pray inside the box.

(Judith Costello is a member of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport.)

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