I had a phenomenal literature teacher in high school, the kind whose words stick with me, daily popping into my thought-pattern. This is grace. He was a pastor in Detroit, “pastor” but not “priest,” FYI; but sometimes he would remind me, (sometimes), that his oldest sister was a nun, and one of his earliest memories sitting on her lap before she was separated behind the cloister gate. God is good.
Once he asked us if we had ever come across something while reading that made us pause, put the book down and say, “Wow.”
I can’t remember that I had until that point. I remember saying sometimes I needed to pause just to remember characters or obscure plot lines, but nothing more.
I was young and naïve.
(Side off of that: dewd. Now I have more life experience. This is a wonder to realize!)
This past week, Kathryn told me these words, recently read from St. John Paul II, and then I had to pause, turn away from the internet and say, “Wow.”
Do you want me to tell you beautiful things? I will.
A few weekends back I went to a wedding. The groom came with us the first time we walked the Camino de Santiago.
I organized that trip, too, all young and naïve…and I knew it, too. I poured this out to God again and again in prayer, “God, I CANNOT DO THIS. I don’t speak Spanish! I’ve never been these places! I don’t know how.”
And, over and over again, the reading that would come to mind/ be read at mass was the one about Jesus calling Peter to walk on the water, walk on the water, walk on the water. And here’s Peter who knows that he can’t do this, who knows that it is impossible and yet, Jesus both calls him and gives him the grace. Oh we of little faith.
There are certain key readings read at Catholic weddings. Usually Tobit’s wedding night prayer or the I Corinthian chapter on love debut but, at this one, they picked different readings. And the gospel was: Jesus calling Peter to walk on the water.
My being smiled when they started reading it. And it reminded me of where I was way back in the summer of 2011, planning these things, learning to follow Jesus out onto the water. There, in such a profound way, did I start to understand the truth of these words, “I am with you.”
Something else, also beautiful, happened, too. On Sunday my cousin and some girlfrands came over because my cousin is going to help with some out-of-state family, which is an act of charitable generosity and courage, isn’t it? We know this.
We shared stories about how Hanna, how she will commit herself to a cause and then she can always, always be relied upon because she is a woman of honor and of her word.
Plus, we talked about the adventures we’ve known with her.
I talked about that time I had the STUPID IDEA to walk THIRTY-FIVE MILES in the RAIN AND POISON IVY and just thank your lucky stars for all of the things I don’t talk you into, OK?
There’s more, though:
That is Hanna and we are grateful for this.
Here’s something to pause over: friendship.
I’m not sure if you’ve ever been in a place where you feel like you don’t have any friends, any solid connections…but, I have. And, let me tell you, from those moments you learn how to appreciate friends later.
Godly friendship is solidly a grace, that’s for sure. God has been with us.
Hannnnnnnnnnnnnnna. Vaya con Dios, chica.
Do you want to know other beautiful things?
I will tell you.
I went to the DIA, too, and art museums are always an exercise in explosive beauty, aren’t they.
LOOK AT ALL THESE BEAUTIFUL TECHNIQUES YOU ARE UNABLE TO DO– that’s virtually what the walls scream at me. And I love it. I was there at the promptings of a friend, which is the beautiful thing I’m about to talk about.
Trust me, I understand the delicacy of navigating vocational waters, so I’ll remain vague, but, this: I have a friend whose vocation I’ve cared about for years now. We’ve prayed together and talked it out together and everything else and, now, it looks like God has (in His goodness) begun to reveal new steps to this friend.
I pretty much view a lot of life like a giant Camino these days. I went out with that friend to dinner this week and talked about that. How, we still don’t know how to get to Santiago…but, we know where we need to walk for these next few steps. And, maybe the path will end up winding back and around again but, who knows. We still need to walk it.
This, too, is beautiful. God has been with us.
Do you want to know something else that is beautiful? I will tell you.
I went to the gas station yesterday, and, I’ll admit it, I was a bit ornery because it was snowing, as it has been for the past few days and, GUYS, it’s only NOVEMBER.
The attendant, though, from behind the bullet-proof glass (Detroit, ya’ll), was like, “I love it.”
And I probably scoffed.
Then he was like, “Look how beautiful it is.”
So then I did, as I walked out, I made sure I opened my eyes and heart. The fluffy white flakes were blanketing the world in silence and all that other cliche jazz.
But, he was right. It was beautiful. And I’m thankful that he reminded me. He was a messenger of goodness, wasn’t he? That gas station attendant behind the bullet-proof glass reminded me that: God is with us. 🙂
So. Tying back to St. JPII over here. Christ has been with me. He’s been in community and friendships and art and snow. This is grace.
This past week I also talked to the friend I have who is way way way cooler than I (because he’s a priest. “Well, I’ll just take this ordinary bread and wine and transform it into the BODY AND BLOOD, SOUL AND DIVINITY of our Lord…”), and he was like, “So, what’s your life like these days?”
And I told him that it kind of feels like one of those movies where everything is blowing up all around me, but I can’t do anything about it. I’m just here until everything is done exploding, and then I’ll access what’s left and go from there.
I just finish typing about all these moments of beauty I’ve encountered, but everything is in explosion-stage?
Yeah. Pretty much.
Two of my close friends are leaving, there’s a bit of upheaval at work, I’m trying to determine the best places to invest my time/ energy/ self, etc.
I feel like this is happening all around me.
But, also, I know that Jesus is here, too, because He always is, and that’s why things are still beautiful, that’s why I feel an underlying sense of peacefulness, that’s why I feel like the actors who aren’t concerned with the explosions.
Beauty and chaos. Hello, juxtaposition.
It’s possible that, today, the priest read the incorrect prayer to begin mass. It’s also possible that that prayer touched me, so I tried to find it so I could share it here and only then realized the mistake. 🙂
If you’d like, read it aloud. Especially the parts I’ve bolded…just because.
Oh God, who have prepared for those who love you
good things which no eye can see,
fill our hearts, we pray, with the warmth of your love
so that, loving you in all thing and above all things,
we may attain your promises which surpass every human desire.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, forever and ever.
Beauty, peace, transition, chaos, life.
Even so, God is with me. I do not doubt this.
And, He’s with you, too. (Or, at least, He’d love to be).