If I stumble or ramble a bit with this entry, I hope the reader will forgive me. There is reason for it.
Eighteen years ago I embarked on a leg of my life's journey that has been and continues to be profound. I professed vows as a permanent deacon in the Catholic Church.
Like marriage, and the raising of children, this path - this road I now travel on - is one from which I cannot turn back, even if I desired it. The knowledge that this road only goes one way does not detract from my being a traveler on it, nor my desire to be there.
Despite the many mistakes and missteps I have made, I'm still standing. Some of these errors have been large and profound. One or two were even compounded by my efforts to try turning back, to start over. Innocent as I thought this might be, it became obvious that even this could not stop the divine momentum that was put in motion on that day, and the others like it: the day I married my dear wife, and the dates of birth of our children.
Three years ago, I entered among the posts of this blog that I had finally recognized that I was past the 'estranged' relationship I had with the Catholic Church as a result of the way I had chosen to do things. It is true that at in that moment I had reconciled myself to the past. Looking back, though, the goal to change my life may not quite have reached the expectations I had put behind those words. There is still some baggage to unload.
A year ago, I was challenged by the concept that I had 'fallen off my horse' making those errors, but the horse had found me and was attempting to get me back in his saddle, as only a faithful horse can do.
Today, the horse is still patiently waiting.
He waits because I still have much to understand at a deeper level. I have sensed that some truths I hold are not Universal Truths. I am at odds about the disconnect between Jesus' command to "love one another" and the debate over issues that never seem to go away: the role of women in the Church, the issues related to sexual orientation, and whether or not the US Health & Human Services' "mandate" really threatens First Amendment rights to freedom of religious practice and expression. He waits, ever so faithful and patient, because I have the garden of my family to tend. We're really starting to feel our age all of a sudden. He waits, like a dear friend, because while change has come slow and life keeps turning pages, I am moving forward and not backward. I have been reminded what is meant by the psalmist in Ps. 139, and was put so simply in Baltimore Catechism #1: God is everywhere.
That's right. There is no separation. You can't run away from your Creator. He knows you; he knows you better than you know yourself and he knows where you are. You may attempt to put up walls and barricades, but he will knock every one of them down. You may deny his existence, but he will put up reminders at every turn, and only in the last moment of this life would any denial stick.
You can think all you want that our great nation separates religion and faith from governance; but it can't. The people who elect our representatives in government do not en masse leave their faith at the door to the polling place. The best that can come of this is that we have the freedom to live our faith while accepting that we cannot force everyone else to believe and practice as we do, even if it seems that it is our mission is to convert others. (By the way, nowhere does the biblical mandate to evangelize say force it down people. That goes against several other practices.)
God is everywhere. This Truth is probably one of the hardest lessons I have had to remember as an adult. In adult life we tend to compartmentalize everything, including God's place in the world and in personal day-to-day living. But even in our periods of recreation (and maybe especially then), God is there. I am continually surprised in the ways God uses to remind me of his presence and his love. Had Paul of Tarsus added this to his list (In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor freeman, male or female; all are alive in him), it might have been easier to remember. But no sooner do I write this that I am prompted by memory of where he wrote, Who can separate us from the love of Christ?
I wrote as a status update to announce my anniversary that I continue to serve diaconal ministry in prayer. This I do. It, too, is not as simple as it sounds. Focus on prayer can often be elusive, its fervor muddied by multitasking in an effort to keep moving and get things done. Still, this is perhaps the most meaningful personal accomplishment of the last three years. I liken it to a toddler making his first unsupported steps to walk.
As long as I continue to show signs of progress, my faithful friend will continue to be patient and at my side, waiting for me to allow him to take me to places I would never otherwise see.