Monday, August 17, 2009

God, Show me the Way!

Greetings fellow Network of Love Lovers!

I am back at school in Chicago, beginning my senior year of college seminary and undergraduate studies at St. Joe's on the campus of Loyola University. Things are going well. I'm moved in and waiting for classes to start.

My trip to, wow, wow. Did I have a wonderful time! I am very thankful to the people who helped make it happen. I appreciate the hospitality of those who hosted me, and the generosity of people from my home parish in West Allis who donated money toward my efforts to be a pilgrim to Lourdes, France. The five weeks in England and France were a time I will not soon forget. I cherish the memories.


I've been thinking a bit about what an older gentleman whispered to me one night while a group of us were in Lourdes praying by the grotto. This is a place where people who come to Lourdes on pilgrimage gather to offer prayers to God and petitions, opening their hearts and minds to a God they believe hears their prayers.

I was simply sitting, sifting through my own petitions in my head, not really thinking much. Just trying to sort of be in the moment, in the presence of God in this spiritual place.

Anyways, this gentleman from our group, Peter, comes up to me and breaks the silence. He says quietly and in his clever sounding English accent, "Bob, God won't tell you what to do, God will SHOW you what to do." The statement clicked with me for some reason. It made sense and was something I feel that I absolutely needed to hear in that time standing in that place.

I think in my own life, walking the journey I am walking, I wait for God to be the Army General who will order my next move. Maybe this is a remnant of the early childhood concept of God I (and many other children) have---a Zeus-like figure sitting on a royal chair in the clouds with a thunderbolt waiting to shock His minions if they step out of line. Whatever the case, I often feel that God is watching what I am doing and judging me; that there is something I really ought to be doing that God is just waiting for me to do. And so what follows is sometimes me waiting for God to say something, metaphorically speaking.

But waiting for a sign from God can be like waiting for a sunny day in Liverpool England. It may come every now and again (no offense to my wonderful friends from the Liverpool area), but don't bank on it. Having said that, please do not discredit the awesome ways that God can and does work in our lives.

God, we believe, speaks through other people. God speaks through our closest friends and family. God speaks through people we are in relationships with. God speaks through co-workers. God speaks through our bosses. God also speaks through strangers.

We can't put a limit on God's power to speak to us through people. If we ever put a limit on God, we would really be creating a god, a false idol. To consider God as Creator, as a God that breathes with us, as Spirit, we turn to a concept of God that is not a dominating, towering figure high in the sky. Even though God is greater than the sky, God captivates and moves us in the silence of our hearts; in the simplest rustling of leaves on an Autumn afternoon.

What I am trying to say, in a roundabout way, is the same thing Peter whispered to me on that night at the grotto. God won't tell us what to do...God will show us what to do.

For our part, we have to play an active role. God is willing to show us. And we have to want God to show us. To simply play the part of a lover of God is not going to be sufficient. Rather, we have to truly want God to show us the way. If we show God love then we can't help but believe that that God who IS love will show us a love in return. This kind of Love will help us to move mountains and solve seemingly insurmountable dilemmas. I turn to my Christian faith, to Jesus of Nazareth, a person who I actually believe was God in human form, to root myself in the idea that Love knows no boundaries and is limitless.

But this whole loving God thing, it isn't easy. For any of us. And that is why we have people, places, scripture, churches, leaders, ministers---co-workers in the vineyard, so to speak---to help us ferment the wine that our God has shown us how to make.

God, show me the way, for I am often a lost sheep in search of you, my loving Pastor. I have faith that when you find me, you will breath a Love into my heart that knows no boundaries and that Love me, regardless of my flaws.

peace and blessings and wishing you all a wonderful week,

your friend bob : )

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Following Lourdes Pilgrimage

Greetings fellow Network of Love Lovers!

I just got back from a one week pilgrimage to Lourdes, France, where I spent my time with a group of fellow university students caring for elderly and sick that had also went on the trip. We went with the Shrewsbury Diocese of England and it was an absolutely incredible experience!

In my journal yesterday, I wrote a few words to describe how I felt immediately upon returning from a very moving, spiritual week.

I'm sad because I am no longer physically in Lourdes, on a diocesan pilgrimage. But I am hopeful for a future filled with pilgrimage---a life that is one, long journey. I am hopeful in embarking on a particular human experience that we can call our lifelong journey into the heart of God.

Like Bishop Brian (Shrewsbury bishop) said during the homily on our final day of pilgrimage, the pilgrimage does not end when we return home. It is actually then and only then that we can and should ultimately produce the fruits we planted and laboured for in while in Lourdes.

There is an antiphon (beginning of a prayer) that reads like this:
"When will I come to the end of my pilgrimage and enter the presence of God?" (Ironically, this was the antiphon I read during the first morning prayer I said after returning from Lourdes).

A possible answer to the question posed in the prayer: The pilgrimage here on earth doesn't end until death. And even then, we believe that an Eternal Banquet awaits all people on our journey in this place.

peace and blessings to all!

with love,

your friend bob : )