Switchback

Do you know the term “switchback”? or maybe the sailing term “tacking.” – If I’m not mistaken, both refer to making progress by taking a zigzag sort of course – progress is made, but there’s an awful lot of switching direction. Rather like my take on today’s gospel…

Jesus talks about the two sons – the Father tells both of them what he wants them to do. The first one says “no way!” but later decides to go ahead and do his father’s will. The second says “Yes! certainly.” and then go on his merry way without doing anything.

It’s no good to try to figure out which of these children I am. I am both. In times of growing, I can hear a call and it hits so close to home that I turn and say “no way! I can’t do that. I won’t do that.” But, it eats at me, and I come around. Other times, I feel so interested, and say “yes!” and then I fail to do anything.

I am a convert to the Catholic Church. Now, I’ve been a Catholic Christian for far longer than I was a protestant Christian, but the path that got me here was the one of the older (?) or first brother from the gospel. I was sitting on a hill, in front of a fig tree near the Catholic Student Center when it occurred to me that I was to join this community. “Not me, God. You have the wrong person.” The very idea rocked my soul to the core. Good Calvinist Christians do not join the Catholic Church. No way.

As time passed, the idea wouldn’t leave me. I finally gave up fighting the request and began to go through the preparations to join the church. Funny, I went through the classes no less than 2 full rounds. And, in the end, I had to convince the priests and sisters that I was serious. I understand their hesitation – and they were right to try to make sure that I was serious. The road has not always been smooth, but, after the initial “No” I found I had to reconsider and say “Yes.”

The times when I am the second son are many and not so dramatic. And, right now, I am not even willing to address some of them in an open forum. But, the “Yes” with no follow-up happens more often than I would like.

This journey is one of switchbacks and tacking. It is good to know that God is always calling. It is good to know that the Spirit is there as the wind in my sails, even when I have to tack for a great distance. It is good to remember that “yes” can happen even after the initial turn-down and wise to remember that just because I say “yes” the task is not yet accomplished.

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