I packed the wrong shoes for the Synod.
Oh, don’t get me wrong–they were cute and complimented all weekend long. Only, they have a raised heel, and not even that high, but enough to start bothering my feet after the first day on them for hours…and then the second…and then the third.
Being on a committee that hosts an event = “…and other responsibilities as needed…” and my other “as neededs” piled one over the other. They were all blessed things to do, though, and I was happy to do them. Only, of course…in heels.
At the final mass, the very last thing for the Synod members (well, except for the afterglow), I knew my responsibilities were winding down.
So, I picked a seat on the top of the balcony level, in a corner (for I like it when my shoulder rests against a corner when I’m sitting).
From my little perch, I could hear everything and see half of it. 🙂 I could see half the choir. I could see half of the priests. And, if I craned my neck a little, I could see the Archbishop when he spoke.
So I sat there, squished in a pew, resting my tired feet on the kneeler.
A little after mass started, my dear friend, Tim, came and did the head-nod/ raised eyebrow which meant, “Can I sit here, too?” and of course I scooted over, so he could be there, too.
Cozy in a dark corner, I closed my eyes and thought about this entire Synod process.
I had just started a new job, summer of 2015, when I received a call from the Judicial Vicar for the Archdiocese. He asked if I would like to sit on the Secretariat for the Synod. Lord help me, I didn’t even know what any of those words meant. He told me to pray about it. So I did. And I said, “yes.”
I thought about this in that shadowed corner of the balcony level.
The meetings were on Mondays. I would skip lunch on those days, instead sitting in on a meeting where I didn’t always know what was going on, but I always always felt that God was present.
In the dark balcony, I thought about the timeline of my life, and what those meetings saw me through. To say that this was a rough patch in my life is kind of putting it lightly.
A job that daily took light from me.
A breakup that was confusing and dark and still leaves me with a lot of unknowns.
A person who was abusive.
And (the worst, if you ask me): a season of desolation, spiritually, where I stopped sensing the presence of God.
And all of them in the same 18 months.
(Don’t worry, I’m in therapy now. For real).
But somehow somehow, even when God seemed to be NO WHERE else, I could always count on that window of grace from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. in the meeting room in the northeast corner of the 5th floor of the office building. In my mind sometimes, in that meeting, I would just retreat to being with God again, knowing that that grace could get me to another week, at least.
This is a part of the story of the Synod for me.
I think a lot of the story of Elizabeth from the Bible. How, at the same time, when all of Israel was praying for a man who would announce a redeemer, Elizabeth, too, was praying for a son. And God, in His goodness, answered the prayer of all of His people at the same time he answered the prayer of his daughter. John the Baptist. God–good and loving–ministered on this large-scale level, just as meaningfully as he did to a singular individual.
There will be a few more Synod meetings. There is some follow-up, a few events that must take place. I am invited to be a part of all of this.
Only, now, the meetings are winding down. These meetings that lifted me, once a week, reminded me that the Holy Spirit was still alive and active and wonderful, poured hope into my heart that good things were happening in my city, energized me. They’re done now.
Sitting there, I was struck by this.
And I thought to myself, “Maybe I don’t need them anymore.”
That one job is over. I can date other guys. I never need to see the abusive-person again.
I have a new job now. It’s really, really amazing. Prayer is sometimes still rough (because it is prayer), but I often feel God with me again. Last weekend I went dancing and the leads were FINE.
Overall, I’m in a better place than I was at any point in the past 18 months. (Praise be).
Feet sore and resting on the kneeler, I couldn’t help but smile, with my hands folded in front of me.
I KNOW that this Synod will unleash an incredible amount of grace upon the people and churches and cities surrounding me. I know this because I know that God is good and generous and He always comes and He is mighty to save. I’m very touched and very grateful to be able to witness what the Lord will do.
But, I also know that God used it for me. He picked me. He picked me in a way that would sustain me when everything else around me seemed like a pile of rubble. He sat me in a meeting where I was far from qualified to sit, gave me laughter in seasons where that seemed impossible, and led me through to the other side.
For the way God works, in both the large and small-scale: blessed be God forever.
I thought about this with awe and gratefulness and I closed my eyes so I could remember it forever, sitting there, sore feet squished into a pew, my friends gathered around, listening to the Archbishop, smiling.
At the afterglow, after the mass was done and I had helped stacked chairs, one of the priests I know came up to me.
“I saw you smiling in that balcony,” he said, “and I thought you were going to float away.”
I didn’t float anywhere. I’m still here. And there is still work to be done.
But, from where I have been, and where I’m going: blessed be God. Forever.