Yesterday was one of those strange days you sometimes get when you have a cold. There was nothing on my schedule that couldn’t be moved, so I spent most of my hours on the couch to give my body optimal circumstances in which to fight off germs (which I picture as all the relatives of the disgusting creature in the Mucinex commercial).
-I read most of a novel I would not have stuck with otherwise.
-I watched a twenty-five minute video on why five men became Jesuit priests.
-I discovered this inspiring blog by a woman about the process of learning to live again after she had a stroke when she was twenty-six.
It was a weird day of observing other people making choices about their lives on a day my life was sidelined for repairs. And it was a blast.
The priest video floored me. I know it’s a publicity piece designed to attract new candidates to the priesthood (the Catholic version of the Army’s Be All That You Can Be) but it’s good. Watching these men reflect on their unusual life paths was so fascinating… by the end, I was practically ready to join.
Two things stood out: One priest said that he knew the novitiate was right for him because “Even though they didn’t do things the way I would have done them, and I didn’t really fit in – I was more intellectual and analytical, whereas they were more hands-on and had all these experiences – I felt this peace. I was at home there, and I was wanted.” That captures Christian community perfectly. When it’s going well, that’s what it feels like. Not like you’re wanted in a general way, as one more wave in the sea of humanity. Feeling at home in a place means that you’re wanted personally, for what you bring and who you are. That’s powerful, and this priest articulated this so well. It didn’t make me want his life, so much as a life that feels like his, if that makes sense.
The second thing was the priest who said something to the effect of, “My grandma called me selfish for becoming a priest. But it’s not selfish to follow the desires of your heart. Jesus followed the desire of his heart. He didn’t do what people expected. But he knew what he was there to do.” Interesting stuff to think about.
And the blog posts by Katherine Wolf, the woman recovering from a stroke? It just felt good to be in the presence of someone who has been through something unthinkably bad and is creating some narrative order out of the chaos. I think that’s what I’m looking for in the books and blogs and articles I read now, people of faith who have been through (or are in) unthinkable situations, who offer evidence that God sorts it out. I can’t reconcile what I see happening with the promises I see in the Bible. But maybe that’s not my job. It was good to be reminded of that, and enjoy glimpses of a way forward.
Today, I’m feeling a bit better. God willing, there will be less internet surfing and more cogent words on the page. And yet I’m so grateful for yesterday’s respite, and a chance to look at life from some unexpected angles.