No, they are not mine. Far from mine. These are the words of a 25-year old male student and veterinarian who composed them in an e-mail and sent them to Heather King. Heather posted them today, and they have humbled me into silence. If you read nothing else today, this week…whenever…set aside ten minutes and consider what he’s saying about love. About real, honest-to-goodness sacrificial love.
In light of the events I wrote about the other day at my son’s high school I believe these words are relevant.
I watched in amazement yesterday as a post on the Ignatius Press Facebook page about an immigrant discussing his book Tea Party Catholic immediately degenerated into an “us vs. them” free for all in which liberals and conservatives went to war on who is truly Catholic backed up with talking points and misinformation and few comments actually based on the merits of the article. A code word was seen and the knives were out. And thus the Body of Christ suffered more blows, bruises and cuts.
Did I say I watched in amazement? Actually it was disgust.
In light of that experience I believe these words are relevant.
This young man has put into words things that have been rattling around in my brain for quite awhile now, most especially since my Ignatian retreat of a year ago. I’m going to pull only a brief section out of it and paste it below. This was difficult because the entire piece is worth posting.
And if you’re not humbled and thankful after reading it all I gently suggest that you read it again.
There is a feast here. For many it will be bitter fruit as it challenges comfort zones. I am among these. But it is food nonetheless that is worth ingesting and absorbing.
Sometimes it makes me angry, how ugly we really are. Not just the hypocritical Christians, but all of us. How we tear each other apart, selfishly use each other, see only our own problems rather than to look at our world and see the hemorrhaging human heart in all of its suffering. Damn our selfishness, damn our pride, damn our unwillingness to walk a mile in another’s shoes.
That is what I see to be our call as Christians, to stand with the suffering. To see life in all of its horror, darkness, pain and to bring to it Light, Truth and Beauty. To be a Christian is to bring beauty and goodness into a world of ugliness, cynicism, and hate. It is to approach the world with the wisdom of a man, yet the heart of a child. To be as wise as a serpent, yet innocent as a dove. The world is begging for someone to bind up its wounds, for someone to show a better way, for love, for justice, for mercy. And so we turn to our Lord and say, “Jesus, teach us how to pray!” He replies “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses—as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation Oh Lord, but deliver us from Evil.”
He tells us to rely on him. To love him. To ask for forgiveness. To freely grant it to those who do us harm. To seek and to find the narrow way, and when we fall short, to beg for deliverance. Deliverance? Deliverance from whom? In my estimation, most often—ourselves. Deliver us Lord from ourselves. Our hypocritical nature, our self-loathing, our condemning attitudes, our willingness to destroy and reluctance to build.
Jesus, let me see myself as you see me. I beg of you. I want to see something that can be loved. Something that is loved wholly. Not just what I present, but even my ugliness. The parts of myself I hate. The parts of myself that make me long to pull out the scalpel and cut them off. The parts of myself that I have tried to cut off but only self-mutilated to the point of anemia. Teach me that I can put myself in this awkward position of believing that I can love everything about myself, just as I must awkwardly believe that you love everything about your creation.