When I am weak or weary or wounded, the natural world teaches me that all is fleeting. All things are changing. I can choose to use the challenging and hurtful experiences in my life to become bitter or let them help make me better. When I try to hide or run away from my own weakness, weariness and wounds, my wounds fester and I become bitter. Instead I choose to “peel my own image from the mirror, sit and feast on my life.”1 I make friends with my weakness, weariness and wounds as the enemies Christ bids me to love, and they become my best allies. When I feel the deep soul exhaustion, the aching bone weariness, the tiredness that terrorizes the soul, the natural world reminds me that the land we call barren is the land lain fallow to receive the new seed of hope. Hospitality is the openness that needed for reconciliation to take place.
Father Joe told us about how in Enterprise, Alabama they built a monument to the boll weevil. The plaque below it describes it as a tribute erected by the citizens of Enterprise in 1919 to show their appreciation for its profound influence on the area's agriculture and economy. Hailing the beetle as a "herald of prosperity," it stands as the world's only monument built to honor an agricultural pest. The boll weevil (Anthonomus grandis) was indigenous to Mexico, but appeared in Alabama in 1915. By 1918 farmers were losing whole cotton crops to the beetle. Instead of despairing, an insightful businessman named H. M. Sessions used this as an opportunity to convert the area to peanut farming. Cotton was grown again, but farmers learned to diversify their crops. The monument stands as a tribute to how something disastrous can be a catalyst for change, and a reminder of how the people of Enterprise adjusted in the face of adversity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boll_Weevil_Monument
Recovering from some painful experiences in ministry, I am longing for new creation in my life by accepting my personal truth and giving time for God to let that truth blossom and grow and bear fruit. I am a writer first and foremost. This is my vocation and my gift. If I am to do anything meaningful for the young, the poor and vulnerable and serve the Church, I must do it by employing this gift even when others would have me do otherwise, regardless of the cost. Repeatedly in spiritual direction and counseling this truth emerges, and repeatedly I have quietly put it aside in order to do something else. Excuses, excuses. No time, no compulsion, no paper, no energy, no focus, no agent. No, no, no. Karl Rahner defines guilt as the human “no” to God’s self communication. "Guilt is not, as is often assumed, a series of specific violations against an authority with punitive power, or the collective infractions and transgressions of human norms and the law. Likewise, it is not an error in judgment or failure to act on moral obligation. Rather guilt is “an ultimate, irrevocable, protest stemming from the rejection of life itself, of an act against oneself as a whole person and against God."2 I know in my heart that the one thing I would regret on my death bed is failing to publish the story I have inside. I must write this story in order to be redeemed and I need God’s grace to do it.
The climate in the Church today is as clouded by denial betrayal, accusation and denial as it was in the moment Christ instituted the Eucharist. We receive the Eucharist in a climate clouded by betrayal of trust placed in the priests we call fathers and subsequent damage to our image of God as Father, clouded by accusations both true and false that threaten to bankrupt the resources of the Church, and by systemic injustice that denies the message of Jesus Christ that men are not to be placed above women and children in the reign of God. What story do I need to write to help dispel these clouds so that the spirit of truth and justice can be incarnated again in our midst and unite us in faith? I know the answer to that question, and I am making time in my life to find an agent and write it.
1 Walcott, Derek, Collected Poems 1948-1984, p. 328.
2 Rahner, Karl, Meditations on the Sacraments, Seabury, 1944, p. 73.