*The university shut down at 11 am today (tornadoes, rugged weather – the remnants of Fay). Nice day to reflect on all that I am grateful for.
- For my youngest child’s graduation from college
- For the same son getting a job almost immediately, doing something it seems he will really like working at
- For the fact that Ella (granddaughter) arrived ahead of Tropical Storm Fay
- That my son (Ella’s daddy) and his family survived Fay without damage or flooding (they live in Melbourne, where Fay camped for days
- That my daughter and her husband sold their house (and are in the process of buying one in a new town)
- For rain! Rain that can help the Southeast move past drought conditions. Keep raining!
- For safety from nearby tornados
- For Fr. Alex who filled in for our pastor for the past 3 weeks
- For good friends
- For my sisters in Christ (and their funny emails)
Unusual for me – I could go on and on.
Thursday evening after choir practice, [Fr.] Alex, Timothy and I stood around in the parking lot, sharing and discussing recent readings. I love to watch Alex when he gets going. He starts to talk about Jesus and his faith and his entire being lights up. Timothy too dove into the sharing…
As we talked, Alex shared that the question he will leave with us during the weekend masses will be “Who is Jesus to you?” — very adamantly he added that he wasn’t interested in what you have been taught as “fact” about Jesus or church, he didn’t want to know the “proper” answers.
How would I answer that question? The story of a Marine shot down in the jungle of Viet Nam comes to mind. As he struggled to get himself together and wonder how he would ever get to safety as native appeared as if from thin air.
“Follow me. I will take you to safety.”
“You will show me the path? You will show me the road?”
“No – there is no path. Follow ME. I am the way you get out.”
And so it is with following Jesus for me. He is the Way. Paths can be helpful. They can make it easier to cover certai terrain. But in the end – my individual path is simply walking with him, and knowing him.
I’ve long had difficulty with traditional Marian traditions/prayers/worship. Probably partly stems from my Calvinist introduction to Christianity. But, I think it may go deeper than that. I believe it involves the traditional image of Mary who honor is that she was submissive — and the idea that we often get that she was submissive to men. Yes, I see her as submissive – but only to the will of God. One has to be pretty well centered and strong in faith to submit to God’s will. One has to be ready to stand tall, face opposition and be willing to stand their ground to carry this out.
I’m not so strong. I am often submissive (and resentful) to the wrong things, to the wrong people.
And so, last week, at the vigil mass for the Assumption, I was very struck by Fr. Alex’s message. He asked each of us to share the virtue(s) of Mary that we wish to emulate in our lives. We’re a pretty talkative group, so there were several responses. Then he followed with the idea that the ultimate virtue of Mary was that she gave birth to Christ — she brought Christ into the world. And that is what each of us is called to do, over and over again.
This morning as I made my way through morning prayers and the readings for the mass (Queenship of Mary), the power of Mary as the first among the disciples, the first to bring Christ into the world came back fiercely.
I can only pray that on ocasion I too can bring the Light of Christ into the part of the world I inhabit.
That’s what it feels like right now. We went away on vacation. But, we’ve not had too much company this summer. And then Bang! in August, I suddenly don’t have room… I feel a bit like the Innkeeper in the Nativity story. Everyone in town at once, and not enough rooms.
I have a new granddaughter! Ella was born about 1 am Saturday morning. That was joyful news to cap off a week of good news.
New babies are so totally unaware of the hope and joy they bear. They just exist, right there in the moment. A new little one, in this strange world of light and sound and touch, is just present. Free from knowing of the expectations that family, friends and the world will try to put on them. Free to be dependent on Mama. Open to being loved.
I’m looking forward to meeting baby Ella. I’m looking forward to spending a week helping out and spending time with her sister, Lily (not quite 2 years old). These new little lives, full of wonder, help me to remember to be full of wonder. They are a very real reminder that we must be as little children to enter the kingdom of God. And they example of how to do it.
Makes me want to shout “Alleluia!”
This week has brought much joy – much good news. There was a college graduation, a job offer, a contract on a house (in this market, that is cause for great joy) and the imminent arrival of a second granddaughter.
It also brought up my dispairing side. I found myself thinking – “OK – where’s the bad news? Life can’t be this good.” It seems I hold some deep-seated opinion that I am not worthy of having so many good things. I am not worthy. If there is joy in my life, sorrow must be lurking around the corner, ready to pounce.
I’ve been focusing on gratefulness. On accepting with joy the wonderful things that happen this week. Easier said than done. Even when I look back over the week, I see some frustration. The phone line was cut by the plumbers, and we had no phone or internet for 2 days. The work the plumbers were planning to do went awry.
Funny — looking back, those “bad things” just didn’t even register.
I am grateful. I am happy. I am thankful. And that’s a good space to live in.