If Your Dreams Don’t Scare You…

Hanging on the wall, in one of the restrooms, of the Crossfit box I go to almost every day during the week is a plaque that reads, “If your dreams don’t scare you they’re not big enough!”  
I always thought it strange that Coach David would place it in a restroom at CrossFit Manayunk. Then, I realized that it has become a focal point for me, especially when I don’t feel like working out, or when a movement is going to occur that day that I will undoubtedly – at least in my head – fail at, or when I am at my weakest, emotionally or physically. If it wasn’t placed there with intention, then God’s hand was certainly in it, because it is where most of us go for a brief respite, a mindless retreat, or a place to simply cry for a moment and let it out to get us back on track. It has become a place of regenerating my soul to allow me to get back to the tasks at hand; to get back to work. 
Undoubtedly, you’ve heard this saying before. But how much do you wholeheartedly believe in it? I wondered the same thing about myself, until I realized that I have been constantly scared for the last ten years now! It all started for me with a dream, as I sat in my new apartment in Allentown. I was scared then, too. I had just been ordained and moved to a new town to begin my journey to become a Trauma Chaplain at Lehigh Valley Hospital. I wanted to stay in Washington, DC, but God, and the bishop, had other plans. So, I yielded and went, as promised by my vows. I was in my new place and began to dream. I was also very scared. 
I dreamed, because I had been hurt so often by the ‘institutional church’. A place that seemed to only care for itself and its own preservation. God’s Church, at least to me, had become a place of oppression, hate, and division; I was frightened. I was scared, then, too, but not in any good or productive way. I was scared because I was always being told how bad I was, how worthless, how unworthy, how broken, how unwanted. The church, for me, had become a place of horrors, and I believed that was not what God had in mind when He sent His Child to dwell among us. I believed in something different.
So, I set out! One day, I abandoned all that I knew and set out on a journey to discover that place. I packed up my relics, icons, religious images, seminary books, and degrees, and I set out to on a journey wherein I visited literally hundreds of churches, synagogues, and mosques. I met with countless religious leaders and read many books. I prayed, too, but in admittedly spits and spats. I was seeking something of the lost ‘pearl of great price’, and I was scared again, but this time, determined, too.
During these outings, I kept a journal and listed on the left side of the page all the things I would end up liking about a particular visit to a house of worship. On the right side, all the things that I despised, or that made me uncomfortable, or unwelcome. When I was done, I compiled the list and set out to design something that would harness the best of these, but all in one place. It became Saint Miriam.
She took shape in my mind’s eye initially, then pen went to paper and a parish began to emerge! Finally, I placed her on a website and she had a landing pad to grow into reality. That is why to this very day, our digital footprint is always bigger than our parish! She is always growing into the next shape, the next edition, the next way that God wants her to grow and care for others. 
My dream, that day so long ago now, was that I could help build a parish like no other. One where all folks would find a home, where dreams would be shared, where the vision would be common, and where hope would abound. I wanted a parish that welcomed  everyone, through its doors and to Jesus Himself at the altar, but not at the expense of a single soul. I wanted a place where we could love God, love one another, endure our pains and trials, lift one another up when we fell, share the financial burdens, and still walk away in love and joy every week with a renewed sense of hope. I also wanted to do it where a collection during Mass was never needed, and where even the most broken among us would find a comfortable seat. 
I was scared back then when I began to dream. I am scared to this very day. Surely, others who dream fear their dreams, too? But that didn’t stop them. It fueled them. It did so for me, as well.
I have learned that at the very heart of any successful person’s goal, is a plan. That plan needs to be acted upon daily, and not simply set and forgotten about. It’s easy to give up along the way rather than suffer through the torment and pain of one failure after another. We have had our share of pain, and I have made many mistakes, but the one thing I never did was give up. We never gave up.
It’s been said that it takes an average of 3.8 failures before a dreamer achieves success in whatever endeavor they’re after. That’s just what it takes. The thing that sets a dreamer apart from the average person is that big dreams always scare them, but they are persistent
So, then, it’s not just about having big dreams that scare me; it’s about having the wherewithal and an immense capacity of persistence to see those dreams through. We have done that together at Saint Miriam for almost ten years now. Many of you have joined me in being scared, most have stayed, some have left he dream, but in and through it all God came and waited for us to stay strong, find our bearings, and keep building. We have been truly blessed. From that small rented chapel in a synagogue, to that leased space in Blue Bell, to our present day vibrant campus, our dreams have become a reality because we kept our eye on the ultimate proverbial ball – Jesus – even when we were most scared!  It didn’t happen overnight, but with constant dedication, in came to be. 

You never actually know how close you are if you give up. We never did, and that is why next Sunday is so important! On September 10th, at 10:30am Morning Mass, we will realize another dream come true, another promise kept, another way to serve God with the blessing of our Friary Rectory and the literal resurrection of a broken, water damaged parish building into something even better! God is indeed good, even though, in my humanness, I will always be scared.

I will end with another quote from Francois Rabelais, “Everything comes in time to those who can wait.
How true…

One Response to “If Your Dreams Don’t Scare You…”

  1. Marilyn says:

    My favorite Old Testament passage: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31- 41:1

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