In today’s blog I share with you the TRUTH of miracles and how many times they come when we least expect them and in the most unexpected packaging.
The Week in Miracles
This has been the week of miracles. It all began with the meeting of my self-appointed Board of Directors and me getting out of my Catholic-agenda, ego-driven way to allow the Holy Spirit to breath universal life into my vision and my mission. The next miracle came in the form of a BOOK – Alephby Paulo Coelho. It is the story of an author who is stuck spiritually and professionally and his teacher “J” tells him to step out of his comfort zone and to take his show on the road. BOING….right between the eyes I got that one. The third miracle showed up as I was struggling to GET OUT of the COMPULSIVE grieving I was still being plagued with regarding the loss of love. In swoops my angel and teacher, Julie Tallard Johnson with a link to David Whyte’s upcoming release, When the Heart Breaks – a journey through requited and unrequited love. When I read the liner notes, I started bawling and didn’t stop until I slept. I wept, not only over the loss of love, but more so, over Julie’s gift of hearing the truth beyond my words and responding in generous compassion. I felt humbled, grateful, held in love. I love you Julie! Then came the night of dreams……beautiful, magnificent, generous dreams of love. I awakened with a HUGE layer of grief shed along with a newfound hope and the restoration of my belief that love is possible.
In Walks the Priest
Then came the priest. I have not hidden the fact that my relationship with the Catholic Church has been troubling. There are things I passionately adore about the tradition in which I was raised and there are things that tear at my heart and compel me to speak out in frustration and sometimes rage. The greatest challenge since I left professional work in the Church has been to find my place in a Church that doesn’t seem to want me, but from which I can’t seem to leave. (Yep, I see the pattern here!) But, before I tell you the story of this priest, I have to share my history of how God, at major crossroads in my life always seems to send a priest.
God in Priest’s Clothing
I have had the fabulous experience of knowing many great and wonderful priests in my life. Attending Catholic schools probably increased the probability of this…..but regardless, I am grateful for all the priests who have played a significant role in my life. In particular – Fr. Jeff Vanden Heuvel for being the voice of God that called me into active ministry formation in the first place and the unknown priest who kept me on the path. Back in 1990 something, upon Fr. Jeff’s invitation, I was attending training to become an RCIA facilitator for the Newman Center. I was attending one of the lectures when one of those crossroads came up and slapped me in the face. The lecturer began to tell us that if we had an RCIA candidate who was living with their boy/girl friend without being married, that we were to expel them from the program and deny them entrance into the Catholic Church. Being the disobedient brat and sh…t disturber that I am, I immediately stood up and challenged the lecturer. “Jesus said, ‘judge not lest ye be judged. Who are we to judge another person’s behavior and therefore, who are we to deny them the sacraments? Isn’t that God’s job…not ours?” I was essentially told to sit down, shut up, and do what I was told. I left the lecture certain that if this is what I was being asked to do, I could not continue this training and could not minister in a Church that insisted on denying the sacraments. I was frightened, devastated and heart-broken. “God, how can I do this with integrity when these rules go against every fiber of my being and against how I believe Jesus would respond?” The answer came in the form of a priest. As I was walking the path having my internal discussion with God, a man ran up to me on the path and tugged at my sleeve. “Excuse me. I was in that lecture with you and heard what you said. I am a priest, so I could not respond in front of the group. But I have to tell you, you are right and they are wrong. It is not our place to judge and it certainly not our place to deny the sacraments. We cannot know how God works in the hearts of people. Honor what God has shown you in your heart and please don’t leave. The Church needs more women like you.” And then he ran off. Needless to say, I continued my training and went on to lead the RCIA for eight years and used that formation to craft my own curriculum in Adult Spiritual Formation.
Then came yesterday’s priest. If this time in my life is not a crossroad, I don’t know what is! It is not a secret the struggle the past two years have been between a divorce, trying to make a living in secular ministry, raising two kids through divorce, falling in love, having my heart-broken, and still trying to make a living in secular ministry. Everyday I ask the question, “Is today the day I throw my hands up in surrender and get a ‘real’ job?” This time, the answer showed up in the form of a priest. This priest shows up, sits down in my office and as soon as he sits down, I start to well up with tears. I felt something BIG was about to happen. For the next two hours we talked and shared and stumbled through our similar stories of adoration and frustration, trying to find our mutual places in a very human Church. At the end of our time together, I felt as if we had both found affirmation, validation, support and a new companion on this strange journey of ministry. I cannot say the graces that he received, but for me, I felt renewed, refreshed and strengthened enough to continue this ministerial journey in faith. I also received validation for a bold ministry step that has recently entered my bowl of discernment. All in all, I felt gratitude and wonder at how God showed up today in priest’s clothing and I considered this to be nothing less than miraculous.
Who are the people who have been the voice of God for you in your own path?
Authentic Freedom Ministries