Unless otherwise specified, all writing here on my blog is my own original work. If you refer to something I've written here, please be sure to give me proper credit.

COMMENTS ARE MODERATED: Please don't let that deter you from commenting, though. I LOVE to read your thoughts! I only ask that you keep it clean & respectful.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

On the Level with HandyGramps - Grace, Part Two

           It took a few minutes for me to gather the various sheets I had tucked away here and there.  I set them down on the table in front of him.  OS spent a few minutes poring over them, reading and re-reading each one several times.  When he was done, he looked up at me and shook his head. 
          “This is it?” he said, a rebuking tone in his voice.  “You didn’t listen when Sr. Barbara suggested that you keep a journal?  Well, for what it’s worth, I did like what I just read, so maybe there’s hope for you yet.  Now, I want you to just sit there, shut up, and listen.”
            As I sat there, not knowing what to expect, OS pulled himself up to a rigid, commanding posture – his way of telling me that he was in control.
            “Now,” he began “you understand that when a person does something it always bears the mark of that person’s personality, right?”  (I nodded.)  An architect’s personality is evident in the materials and design of the building.  An artist or composer will endow a painting or a score with a certain signature of style.  Always, there is some evidence of identity, however obvious or hidden, or even disguised.  Sooner or later, that evidence will manifest itself.  Okay?  (Again, I nodded.)  Well, that’s how we find God.  Sooner or later, He reveals Himself in His creation – in the world at large, and especially in human beings.  Even – in – you!  Got it?”
            “Fine, I answered, I know all that, but what…?”
            “I know you know it, Bozo!” OS retorted, interrupting me.  “But do you experience it?  Have you ever let yourself go beyond the academics of your faith and really tried to feel your faith?  Okay, I know you’ve had a couple of sessions with some kind of experience.  I was there, remember?  But not once did you even remotely connect them with the idea that God just might have been letting you feel His grace at work in you.  That’s what those experiences were.  Now that you’ve scratched the surface – and keep in mind, Buster, that’s all you’ve done – maybe you’ll make the connection next time.  If there is a next time.
            “Now,” OS went on, “the most profound personal mystery of this revelation is your – oh, good heavens, our – existence, our reality.  All the questions we’ve asked about ourselves – and pay close attention to this we bit – have been asked by countless others about themselves.  We can’t know their experiences any more than they can know ours.  Take pain, for example.  We can write about an experience we’ve had with pain, maybe even try to communicate some purpose for it; but it all comes out as abstract words.  Nobody can feel our pain.  But we know the reality of that pain in a very concrete way.  We know it intimately.  We can write about it.  We can share our expressed feelings. But only we can know the actual feeling of that pain.  That is a mystery of our existence.
            “To somehow make some sense out of that mystery, we come to realize another Presence, a powerful and pervasive Presence we come to know as God.  It is a Presence that calls us, animates us, draws us into Itself so that we can come to know the experiences of others, yet leaves us free to firm our own end.  By becoming united with that Presence – with God, Himself – we can begin to understand those things St Paul wrote about one body in Christ: if one part of the body hurts so does the rest of it.  The only way we can enter into that unity is through the gratuitous presence of God in our lives.”
            “That’s where I had a problem,” I interrupted.
            OS glared at me to remind me that I was to be still and listen.  He cleared his throat and continued.
            “That’s not where you had a problem, that’s part of your problem.  You need to realize that you don’t need to make choices in a vacuum.  Always remember that you have a place in the community – the faith community, that is.  There you will find your experience shared by so many others.  That will tend to reinforce and legitimize your – our – experiences.  That’s how you will know that your experiences aren’t the product of an overactive imagination, or some sort of self-delusion. Never forget that the communal sense of faith experience has withstood the test of time – not just centuries but millennia.  So, believe me when I say that an experience of God can be very real.”
            OS paused to let this sink in.  I fumbled my fingers nervously as I stared at a picture of the Sacred Heart, trying to absorb what OS knew was already in me.  OS let me be alone for awhile, then picked up where he left off.

~ To Be Continued ~