Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: July 24, 2017

 

i sit

at my window

I seek, hard

what I found

me and god

nothing else, just us

and finally, that is enough

it only took a week

            away

but now, i return

please, lord,

stay.

 

I write this opening poem, that I have entitled,“i sit”, and my reflection for this week from my last morning as a man on vacation. I peer out the window of my RV and watch as a group of birds float by on the surface of the water like it was all they were meant to do; perhaps it is.

We, as a society, take down time for granted and often push it aside for ‘busier things to do’. The stuff of being productive and making money often outweighs the pleasurable substance of life and is often rewarded by praise. I am as guilty of this as I am anything else that is broken in our humanity. But, this trip – this time away – was about intentionally trying to let go and let God come and not worry so much about what I needed to do. It was as much about me as that which I never let time for in my day, like a break, the gift of silence, pondering, recharging, and a bit of relaxation. It was not easy, but God came, summer settled on my soul, and rejuvenation, too. I am a bit more whole today than a mere seven days ago…
 
I noted how so many of my team at my parish tried their best to protect me from all that I normally handle as a pastor. I was struck by their intentionality in caring for me by proxy and allowing me this annual break. No, I was not free from it all, and at times the world, as it is, still managed to break through in a needed text message, telephone call, or email, but by and large, I was away and on a break from it all.
 

Perhaps the hardest part of being away was wrestling with my own brokenness. I did a lot of reflecting on my own imperfections. I weeded out the parts of me that I dislike the most and examined them and prayed during this time. I asked the Father in Heaven to make me a better pastor, priest, man upon my return. In the middle of this time, a fellow priest, was said to be undermining me, calling attention to my every fault and speaking ill of me. Now, I have never hidden my sinfulness, nor ever once claimed not to be broken, but this was particularly hurtful. I was deeply saddened, but then the voice of God struck my heart in reflection of Matthew’s text appointed for this past Sunday when Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying:

“The kingdom of heaven may be likened
to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 
While everyone was asleep his enemy came
and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. 
When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. 
The slaves of the householder came to him and said,
‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? 
Where have the weeds come from?’
He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’
His slaves said to him,
‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds
you might uproot the wheat along with them. 
Let them grow together until harvest;
then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters,
“First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”

And there it was! Yes, I may be as bad as my fellow priest says and certainly unworthy of the office I hold, too. I may even be a weed, but I have the chance to be redeemed. I am, as they say, ‘a work in progress’.  Therefore, the better course for this priest, and all of us who follow Christ, is to be careful not to become a weed ourselves and damage the harvest of God, for that would be a greater sin. Even St. Francis wrestled with his own demons and felt so broken, but served so well. His life was once one not to be very proud of, but in it, and though it, God came. He still does.
 
The other two men who were crucified with Christ that day so long ago were Dismas (sometimes, Dysmas) and Gestas. Now Dismas was the robber who was crucified on Jesus right side, and Gestas on his left. The names do not come from the New Testament, but rather from pseudepigraphical materials not included in the closed canon. As a result, whether these were the actual names of the two men crucified at the time of Jesus is unknown. The greater point is this: Dismas was the name associated with the ‘good’ thief who asked Jesus to remember him in paradise, while Gestas was the one who taunted Jesus along with the crowd. Dismas was canonized as a saint and his feast is celebrated every March 25th.
 
I will end with another quote from my beloved Francis, “I am the herald of the Great King!”  
 
So is Dismas. So am I, and so are we all imperfect as we are, we carry on the cross, redemption assured, our weeds and all.
 

Leave a Reply