Thursday, March 17, 2011

The God-Shaped Hole

On a whim this evening, I decided to subscribe to America, the national Catholic weekly magazine. I've considered it on and off for many years, but tonight I actually did it. I'm committed for a whole year.

America is published by the Jesuits, and having gone to a Jesuit high school, I'm particularly drawn to their writings. The article "Get Closer" by Father James Martin (click here to read the full article) is especially compelling this Lenten season.

The 'desire' Fr. Martin describes is something I have certainly felt, but not recognized as such:

Sometimes you experience a desire for God in common situations: for example, standing silently in the snowy woods on a winter’s day, finding yourself moved to tears during a movie or recognizing a strange sense of connection during a church service—and feeling an inexpressible longing to savor this feeling and to understand what it is.

I have often gone into a trance-like state of hyper-focus during homilies at Mass. (I have great priests at my church.) I usually end up crying, overwhelmed by everything I experience during during the homily. It makes sense now to see that as my desire for God.

...In general, we do not turn to God in suffering because we suddenly become irrational. Rather, God is able to reach us because our defenses are lowered. The barriers that we erected to keep out God—whether pride or fear or lack of interest—are set aside. We are not less rational. We are more open.

Almost exactly a year ago, I asked my brother how little Jeremy Spikes (click here to visit Jeremy's site, authored by his mother) was doing. He'd been in the hospital for a few days, and his mother's Facebook updates weren't good. In the middle of Mass, he checked his phone and showed it to me: "Jeremy grew his wings." I sobbed silently the rest of mass.

I'd never met Allie, Jeremy's mother. But right after church my car took me to Michaels and I picked up the most beautiful beads for the rosary I was compelled to make for this girl I didn't know. I think about and pray for her and her family often, and I am grateful to God for bringing Allie into my life.

Allie still wears her bracelet every day.

It can be quite uncomfortable how death breaks down our defenses and lets God become more audible in His call to us. I know it has opened my eyes to harsh experiences and realities that I'd rather not deal with, but I'm simultaneously glad I did. When I first learned that IMPD Officer David Moore had died (read about Officer Moore's death here), I sobbed violently in front of the television. 

Later, my cousin was helping organize a fundraiser for a memorial scholarship at Ofc Moore's alma mater, Roncalli High School. I quickly offered to donate a rosary. It made a bigger impact than I could have ever expected; the matching one-decade I made for his parents caused his mother to cry when it was given to her.

When I met David's mother, Sergeant Jo Moore, she told my mother and me about learning of his shooting, the strange circumstance that caused her to pick up David's (and not her) rosary that morning, and how God has held her up through losing her only son. I felt embarrassed to cry in front of this woman, but I felt that I was in a moment of Grace, of being in communion with God. Such an amazing, strong woman, and here she was falling over herself telling me how beautiful some wire and beads I made was. It was beyond me.

thin blue line one-decade

Fr. Martin's article caused me to relive all these moments, as well as others I'd rather not share. But to be able to define those fleeting occurrences as a mutual desire between myself and God has made me aware to keep an eye out for those cool breezes that ruffle leaves, the smell of stargazers in June, and the fluff of a warm puppy in my lap. There, in the stillness, is the Lord.

Seriously, read it. It's an amazing and timely article:


Anonymous said...

Wow. I'm an atheist but I have to say you are a brilliant writer. You style has me exploring similar sensations that I have found unexplainable. Thank you for that.


Robert said...

Thank you for sharing this story. You have surely touched many hearts. The sacramentals are very lovely.

Robert's Heirloom Rosaries

Laude Arts and Gifts said...

Great article, Kris, and well written. Thank you for sharing this thought provoking meditation during this Lenten Season.