Becoming Holy

We will miss you, Robin…

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I don’t really have anything to say that isn’t already being said.  I am sad that Robin Williams is dead. I hurt that he was hurting. He has been part of my life for so long. Most of my generation were introduced to Robin in the TV series, “Mork & Mindy.” We grew up on his off-the-wall sense of humor. We saw his funny side. We saw his serious side. He could impersonate anyone and anything. He brought joy to our children as the genie in “Aladdin.” To be honest, Prince Charming and I laughed harder than our children at the multitude of clever jokes and inferences. Watching “Hook” as a family brought us all to the magical world of Never Land. Robin Williams brought movie after movie after movie of love, laughter, joy and sadness. 

Scrolling through Facebook a few days ago, I saw his face but didn’t have time to read the caption. I noticed his face pop up every few feeds and suddenly saw the words “Rest In Peace.” I cannot explain the feeling that went through me. “No, not Robin Williams!” That was before I even read the story about his possible suicide. This was too much to process. I sat at my screen, unable to take it in. Somehow, surprised and not surprised all at once, I felt physically sick at his leave-taking. Someone with such a desire to make people laugh had to understand what it feels like to have nothing to laugh about. A man so concerned about the military, about bringing joy to a fear-filled situation must understand what it is to be fearful. A man with addictions who continuously worked his way through rehab must understand what it is to be dependent on others. 

I have read all kinds of commentaries on Robin’s death. Many are kind and compassionate. Some cruel and critical. I can only speak for myself. I will miss you, Robin Williams. I will miss your voice (and your voices), your humor, your beautiful face. I will miss your soulful performances. I will miss your quick-wit. I will miss your compassion and understanding. I will miss your willingness to pick yourself up over and over again. I will miss your expressions of hope. I will miss your walking among us. 

I will remember you with compassion. I will remember that those among us who appear the happiest may be hiding inner pain. I will remember that laughter is important and love is even more important. I will remember that sometimes life seems burdensome and overwhelming and that I need to be present to those who are struggling. I will remember that even if I am present to those who struggle, it may not be enough. I will remember that God is big enough to enfold each of us in His mercy. I will remember you, Robin, and pray that you have found God’s perfect peace. 

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Let me walk upon the waters…

(There are several versions of this on youtube worth watching~the lyrics are beautiful~Enjoy!)

“Oceans~Where Feet May Fail” by Hillsong is one of my new favorite songs.  I never saw the ocean until Prince Charming and I got married and went to Seaside for our honeymoon. It truly overwhelmed me to see it for the first time. Nothing could have prepared me for the enormity of God’s creation. This song has that same effect on me. The Ocean is the great unknown~all that life holds and all that will ever happen to us.  It is the enormity of God’s creation for each of us individually and as members of the Body of Christ. God calls each of us to go out into the deep and to go where the Spirit leads us. Our response to His call is what will make us truly alive.

This coming Sunday’s Gospel is a continuation of Matthew 14 and will lead each of us to the seashore. Recall that Jesus grieved for the death of his cousin, John the Baptist. He crossed the sea seeking solitude but was followed by the multitudes.  He healed the sick and fed the 5000~truly a miraculous day. The story unfolds as Jesus sends his disciples out on the boat, staying behind to pray on the mountain top. Meanwhile, the disciples are being tossed about on the waves a few miles offshore.  Jesus comes to them, walking across the water.  This terrifies the disciples until he commands, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” We are familiar with what happens next~Peter boldly asks Jesus, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” When Jesus responds, “Come,” Peter leaps out of the boat and begins to walk toward Jesus~on the water! However, he notices the strong winds, takes his eyes of Jesus and begins to sink.  He calls out, “Lord, save me” and is rescued by Jesus’ outstretched hand.

I remember, as a kid, thinking that Peter should have kept his eyes on Jesus and continued walking on the water. Why did he doubt? Remember, these disciples are coming off a day of miracles. Jesus had healed the sick and fed over 5000 people with no more than five loaves and two fish. He had walked on the sea in a storm in the middle of the night. Why would Peter doubt he could walk on water once commanded to do so by Jesus? It is so easy to question the faith of another, especially when everything appears so clear. It is harder to be honest with ourselves.

Why do I doubt? Why do I take my eyes off Jesus and pay attention to the storms around me? I have seen the miracles. Unexplained healing, answers to prayer, conversion of heart, and generosity beyond measure occur around me all the time. The Bible is full of miracles and so is our daily life. The miracle of creation reminds us God is with us. The miracle of birth reminds us God is life-giving. The miracle of prayer reminds us He will sustain us in our darkest hour.

Peter inspires me with his willingness to step out.  He is the first to ask God to command him out into the deep. Even though he loses his focus and begins to sink, Peter knows where his strength is. He immediately calls out, “Lord, save me!” He takes Jesus’ hand and is led back to the safety of the boat. I want the faith of Peter. I want to leap out of the boat and to be willing to call on Jesus each time I fail and begin to sink. Peter’s walk of faith continues on dry land and we know that our brave fisherman will fall again and again. We also know he gets back up each time and calls on Jesus~ever faithful in the storm. We are called to walk out in faith~to go deeper than we think we can~to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is waiting for our leap of faith. He desires our trust in the storm and He wants to hold our gaze as we keep our eyes on Him above the waves. To truly live His plan, we have to walk side by side with Him. Let me walk upon the waters…

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Jesus Grieves

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Last weekend, we found ourselves in White Bird, Idaho, attending weekend Mass.  Fr. Mariusz has a knack of making me cry during his homilies.  This time is no different.  He begins with the Gospel reading from Matthew, Chapter 14:13-21. 

 

“When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist,
he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.”

 

This is the first point emphasized~Jesus grieved.  Jesus was burdened at the news of his cousin’s death.  He wanted to grieve.  He left the crowds and got into the boat to be alone.  However, this was not to be.  The Gospel continues:

 

“The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.
When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.”

 

The stage is now set for what will soon become the Feeding of the Five Thousand~a story most of us are familiar with.  We remember how Jesus took the five loaves and two fish and multiplied them to feed five thousand men ~my apologies to the women and children~and how there were 12 wicker baskets of fragments left over.  On this day, Fr. Mariusz is calling our attention, not to the miracle, but to the fact that Jesus was grieving.  He was sad.  He crossed the Sea to be alone. This is not to be.  The people need Jesus and they get to the other side before He does.  He puts aside his grief and begins to minister to them.

 

At this point, I am aware of God’s powerful message for me. We were sent to White Bird on this day for my heart to be opened.  I had never focused on the opening to this Gospel.  Somehow, for years, I had managed to skim over the death of John the Baptist leading up to the story of the Miracle of the Feeding of the Five Thousand.  Not today.  Today, God wanted to remind me that grief is not supposed to come first.  People come first.

 

Yesterday~two days after this revelation~marks the day we should have welcomed a new baby into our family.  This past November, we were delighted with the news that a new little baby was on the way.  I actually was feeling reasonably well~just enough morning sickness to not be worried, but not as much as usual.  We joked about being “Abraham and Sarah” and rejoiced at the thought of another little life being entrusted to us.  It was also a magical time as we awaited both the coming of Christmas and Jordan’s first home visit from the convent.  Sadly, a few days before Christmas, we shared with our children that a baby had come and gone without their knowing. Jordan’s first day home included a sweet memorial service by Fr. Paul to bless and bury our baby.

 

 

Mom 669                                                    Mom 675

 

 

 

With each of our miscarriages, I am emotionally stuck until I make it through the due date.  All day yesterday, I expected the day to be different~to be significant.  But it was an ordinary day.  The girls got to go harvesting~riding in combines and grain trucks with their cousin, Kayla.  This was followed by more cousin time back at our house.  My sister and her beautiful girls came out in the afternoon. There were squirt gun fights and lots of giggles.  Choir practice followed.  Prince Charming barbecued steak and the evening ended with movie night with more cousins.  

At some point in the evening, I realized that Sunday’s homily was meant for me.  I wanted to grieve. I kept trying to get in the boat and go someplace alone.  But when I arrived at the shore, there were people to feed and laundry to do.  It just wasn’t supposed to be all about me.  Like Jesus, I was called to take pity on the people and minister to them!  I was considering wrapping up the day with a big case of the “poor me’s” but the Holy Spirit stepped in and reminded me of Jesus’ grief. 

This compelled me to revisit Matthew’s Gospel and continue reading.  After the miracle, once all the fragments were gathered, Jesus dismissed the disciples and had them get on the boat without Him. Next, He dismissed the people. He, then, finally, went to the mountain alone to pray.  

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Team Buna

Phillippians 4: 6-7 "Cast your cares upon the Lord & He will give you a peace and grace beyond understanding" ....in other words.... As Bob Marley sang it, "Say, don't worry, about a 'ting, cuz every little 'ting, is gonnna be alright!"

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