I’ve spent today with so many thoughts running through my head. I started today in a weird place. I showered yesterday so I was able to sleep in a little, but I had forgotten to change the clocks back, so when I awoke this morning, they were all wrong except for my cell phone and my kindle. I hate waking up to wrong clocks on the time change Sunday. I find it so confusing. If I don’t realize the change I’m fine, but throwing it in my face just irritates my senses. That’s why I try to change them all before I go to bed, and avoid them all night.
Today was one of those days that was good in retrospect. It’s hard to pay attention to life as it is happening, but it is in looking back that we see what was there. This was something John Boehner said this week after he left Congress. He was asked if the Holy Spirit played a part in his decision to leave, and he relayed that he was told that we only see the Holy Spirit in retrospect.
It should say something that I’m paraphrasing John Boehner!
But it’s the same with good days. They are simply not bad days until you look back and breathe that sigh of relief and announce to yourselves, hey, that was a good day.
Just a recitation of the facts:
Woke up without a headache, and without being dizzy. Bonus. I’m sure the extra hour of sleep helped. I was touched and inspired by my friend, Fran’s post on her blog. Bookmarked a post of Father James Martin’s related to All Saints Day that I will read momentarily. Church was somehow lovely from start to finish. The homily spoke to me, deeply. My silent prayer during the intercessions was that I remember the homily for later. It is mostly gone except for the memory of my priest’s good humor, but maybe in this writing some of it will come back to me. There were new people who I wanted to connect with after, but I wasn’t able to. This bothered me, but I was also given the feeling that if it’s meant to be, it will find a way to happen, and I was okay with that. Upon returning home there were apple pancakes with syrup. Unusually quiet house. My teenager walked across the room to tell me his plans for the day. We watched Tommorowland – excellent movie, two thumbs up. I picked up The Joy of the Gospel by Pope Francis for $1.99 in the Kindle store. I’m currently reading Revelations on a Divine Life by Julian of Norwich, and I might have had a momentary inspiration for creating my own saint’s card.
And I’m writing. There is dinner to look forward to. My husband will be making Chicken Francese (our wedding dinner) and we will be watching an extra long episode of The Walking Dead.
So what was in the homily that had me so hopped up on inspiration?
One thing I’m certain was one of the pokes that led me to being open to the homily was the prayer card I received before I went into the church. It was supposed to be given out after, but I don’t like to miss out, so I took mine early. It was a prayer for vocations. Well, not for me, but I can pray for others to join a vocation. Then I read the card more carefully. “Prayer to Know My Vocation.” My vocation? I turned the card over and found a list of six ways to discover my vocation. This was for me. So vocations weren’t just for religious or laypeople. Hmm. I made a silent reminder to read it later, forgetting that I’m on the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) team, so I am a catechist. I guess I’m one of those laypeople I was thinking about praying for.
Then I was hit with the homily about the saints on this All Saints Day. Now I can be a saint, too?
I never understood how we were supposed to aspired to be a saint. For one thing, they’re dead. They’re also otherworldly, sitting at G-d’s feet, interceding on our behalf when asked. They weren’t just good people, they were the best people, always making the right choices, never stepping a toe out of line. Who could live up to that perfection?
But the reality is that they weren’t perfect. Here we are talking about the possible canonizations of Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton. Check them out on Wikipedia to see how perfect they were in their lives. Many people already consider them saints. Their names are still new to me, but their struggles are not. Even my bad choices all added up don’t add up to half of theirs. So what makes a saint, and why should I want to be one?
Saints are really just people on the same journey that I’m on, making choices, making mistakes, making changes. It is those changes that bring us closer to G-d, and that creates our inner saint, and for some, the public acknowledgment of their outer saint.
You can’t learn compassion and humility. You can only see it in action, and try to imitate the actions. I’m a kind person; I’ve always been a kind person, always trying to do what I could for others, especially friends, and without thinking, but I didn’t think there was anything special about it. I was just being a decent person. I learned that from my parents; not from my religious background.
I saw that compassion exhibited by my friend; it was the first time I saw it in real time and in real life. It was a choice he made to be compassionate. I could make that choice too. It wasn’t just for the religious or the pious. Or even the saintly. I could be compassionate. As important as compassion is though, the most important thing he taught me was forgiveness. I don’t know where I’d be without that gift. Especially for forgiveness of those who’ve really wronged you, and who don’t want your forgiveness. They are the ones you need to forgive the most; for yourself. This is probably the most important lesson I learned. When I let go of all the grudges I was holding onto – it was a small list, but it was an angry one. When I let it go, the weight that came off my shoulders was amazing. Absolutely amazing. I still struggle with my judgmental side, but I try. That’s really all I can do: try.
So on this earthly journey, we are called to different things. It is in recognizing the call and answering the call that we begin to see things in a different light. I am more aware of what I feel and what I want, and I can change direction, and I have changed direction. So maybe I won’t be given the saintly title, I can still lead a saintly life, or at least step in that direction, and pay attention to what’s going on around me.
Pay a little extra attention, and be not afraid to step forward into new experiences, and new spaces and constantly reevaluate, and reassess. Sometimes the change in path or direction is simply a step to the right; or a jump to the left.
When the time comes, you must act! Move in the direction your heart tells you, confident that G-d will never send you where his grace can’t sustain you!
-from the Office of Vocations