Two Sundays back, in the dark evening, I drove to the close-church because they have a chapel and Jesus is there PERPETUALLY and I was ready for that party, yo.
I ran into my youngest brother, though, leaving church and he was like, “Mom said that I should go see this speaker who is presenting tonight; you should come, too.”
And, sometimes I don’t need a lot of convincing, especially if it’s someone telling me about Jesus because sometimes I just need to be reminded. I’m perpetually thirsty for that life-giving water.
The man was older, with a greying beard and a grey cardigan. He told about his conversion to the faith, gave suggestions for growing in holiness, urging us all to sanctity.
“Saints,” he said, the man with the greying beard, “are simply people who have had their perspective changed.”
He talked about the martyrs of North America, the priests who came, and told certain Native American tribes about Jesus, and those tribes converted. But (royal but), then the priests and their converts were killed by warring tribes of Native Americans…killed because they had adopted the peaceful norms of Jesus.
“Were they, the priests, successful?” the man with the beard asked.
“Well,” he said, “it depends on your perspective. From the perspective of the Native Americans who killed them: no, no they were not. The priests and the converted Native Americans were dead and the others were alive. But, we don’t see things from that perspective, do we?”
Sometimes I think about the North American martyrs. They ministered in the area where I live. Blocks away from where I work the second-oldest parish in America was established, a plaque remains in the location of the original church, but the church-building was rebuilt a few miles away. The plaque mentions that the priest who ministers there was killed by a warring tribe of Native Americans.
Every day (just about!) I walk to the church a street away from my office. Sometimes I go to mass, other times I minister to the poor, other times I just sit and pray. I benefit, daily, from the lives of those who came before me, who decided their lives were a small price to pay so that I, too, would know the stories of Jesus, would understand His love, would reach back to Him while His arms are ever-open to me.
Were those martyrs, those priests, those converts successful?
I, for one, cannot even begin to express my gratitude. I say they reached far beyond success into eternal reward.
But, I never said I have answers, I’m just a girl from Detroit.
I read some internet last week, as I’m apt to do with my time. This excerpt struck me, and I still like it:
…After a few moments sitting and pondering that word I remembered a story I had read years before in the book Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning that challenged my perspective of God immensely. Instead of attempting to paraphrase, here is the exact excerpt that I was reminded of in that moment.
“When the brilliant ethicist John Kavanaugh went to work for three months at “the house of the dying” in Calcutta, he was seeking a clear answer as to how best to spend the rest of his life.
On the first morning there he met Mother Teresa. She asked, “And what can I do for you?” Kavanaugh asked her to pray for him.“What do you want me to pray for?” she asked. He voiced the request that he had borne thousands of miles from the United States: “Pray that I have clarity.” She said firmly, “No, I will not do that.” When he asked her why, she said, “Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.”
When Kavanaugh commented that she always seemed to have the clarity he longed for, she laughed and said, “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.”
TRUST. That is God’s answer.
Quality stuff, huh? Clarity vs. trust. Interesante.
I lector on most Thursdays.
This, in itself, can stop me in my tracks. Somehow I stand at the intersection of history where the unimportant, too, can be taught to read. I wasn’t born into a royal family with political connections, but I can make sense from letters-on-pages just the same. I stand at an intersection of geography where, by the grace of God, I can walk to my little church at lunchtime and listen to Jesus and then walk back and I don’t fear, during any of it, that I’ll be harassed or assaulted for this faith I love. I stand at an intersection of faith where I, a woman, am allowed to proclaim these words to the people of God, reminding them of the stories of love.
Hot dang, right??
It’s always a gift to me, even when the writer of the books was male and refers to himself with male pronouns and I’m just like, “La la la.”
The readings are on rotation. Every Catholic church everywhere reads the same readings on the same day, which is, honestly, beautiful and binding. Also: I don’t pick them. The priest doesn’t pick them. They’re a happy surprise of selection. On Thursday I opened a tab for the USCCB site for daily readings and I found I was reading one of my favorite verses, from Ephesians 3:
“Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine,
by the power at work within us,
to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus
to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
I have a silly little theater company which is kind of just me and a lot of Kathryn and whatever friends I can coerce into my madness at a given time. And my first show was “The Jeweler’s Shop” by now-Saint John Paul II and it was mostly a motley mess, if I remember correctly. But, the “name” of the theater company (for names are apparently required when procuring rights to a show from a licensing company) is “Far More Than Theater,” like the first line in the verse.
Far more than all we ask or imagine.
From that one play, two friends hit it off and are now expecting their first baby. It is more than I could have imagined.
From that one play, I made new friends and connections who are emailing me now about new ideas for new plays. More than I could have imagined.
From that one play…I don’t even know. I don’t know the connections being made into the future. It is more than I can ask or imagine.
This is where I’ve been the past few days. Saints: people with changed perspectives. Clarity vs. trust. Far more than we could ask or imagine.
It’s a lot to think about.
I have a bulletin board at work, full of pictures and saying and prayers. One is a hipster photo I picked up one day from a hipster French restaurant built in a small renovated vintage office space in Detroit (judge my life some mo’). After I found it, I wrote on it a verse that hit me in the face from the book of Job a few days earlier, and I still read it. It still touches me.
“He does great things beyond our knowing; wonders past our searching out.”
This is where I’ve been.
Also, if you’d like, I’m praying a novena for All Saints day and if you’re apt to accept invitations to that kind of party: hit me up, yo. I can enroll you and BAM! prayerful intercession from our heavenly friends.
Just lemme know, OK?