Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tough Stuff

Some weeks are bad. And then there are some weeks where you want to crawl into a hole and never come out.

That kind of week is where I find myself now. There's work, where no one is returning my calls, a suddenly blossoming relationship that I am nowhere near emotionally ready for, and family problems.

A cousin of mine has needed a liver for 30 years. Last night, they found a match. My family rejoiced. I praised God, for just that morning I called all my friends and we prayed together for a miracle. Today, as they began the transplant, they learned that he has a secondary issue that for now prohibits transplant. The liver he needed was passed on, and now he remains deathly ill.

Our hearts are extremely burdened over this. I can say personally that I feel stabbed in the back and betrayed by the God who I believed was going to give us a miracle.

But as a coworker reminded me gently in a private moment outside the newsroom, sometimes His answer is no. And sometimes the only words of consolation we receive are "trust Me." Until then, we learn to walk in the dark and listen in the silence.

Now that I've had some time to process and write a letter to a friend, I'm a little more rational. This is not God's fault. Hating Him will accomplish nothing, and screaming at Him will only tire out my soul more. Considering the last few weeks, that's the last thing I need. (Really, it's pretty bad when you walk up to a random priest and ask for confession on a Monday. I'm trying to stay out of more trouble!)

One of the things I said in that letter was that it's the rough things in life that really make us holy.

I don't know if I like the way that feels. But for now, these are the cards He has dealt me. I've seen the consequences of running away too many times, and I'm learning in the midst of my anxiety (which I'm now being treated for) that I just can't be strong on my own.

That's okay. I need Him like I need air. And I can either accept that, or watch my life fall to despair.

I think you know which one I'm going to choose. :)

Monday, May 16, 2011


How often do we hear the voice of God? And when we hear it, how often do we listen?

This was the question we were asked this past weekend for Good Shepherd Sunday. That Saturday night came on the heels of my graduation, which was official Friday afternoon. God, in His great humor, had a way of speaking to me right where I was.

Lately, I haven't been listening...haven't listened, and haven't cared.

That's not for lack of desire, mind you. Knowing I can be open here, I imagine now is as good a time as any to talk about it. Lately, I've been struggling with horrible anxiety to the point where it's become a physical issue.

There are two things I'm learning from this experience: first, I know that my spiritual life taking a hit isn't going to help anything. One line of a Matt Maher song says, "My fear grips my faith, and I am left unmoved." That's where I'm at.

The other thing -- and this is perhaps most important of all -- is that I am utterly dependent on God. Without Him, I lose my footing, my center, my courage.

I'm not sure yet how I'm going to get out of this, but the first place I'm going to start is my knees. And the doctor. Please pray for me.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The End

It's over.

On Thursday, I left my chaplain's office and walked across the Newman house, wanting to stop in the little Adoration chapel one more time. Only the day before I was studying there, wanting to avoid the distraction of music, laughter and friends.

A month ago, I sat on the floor there with three of them, all of us praying for a relative of mine as he clung to life. An hour later, we learned of his miraculous recovery.

A year ago, I prayed for strength as I faced the end of junior year in the midst of troubled times at home, not knowing what I would find when I got there. God provided for me then.

And yesterday, I sat back on my knees for a minute in silence, watching the sunlight filter through the stained glass. For just a little while, I wanted to hang on to the embrace of all those memories and relationships.

Before I knew what hit me, I was crying both in sadness for the end of this chapter of my life, and in thanksgiving for God's fingerprints on every inch of it. In some ways, it's taken me until now to notice them.

Today, I turned in the keys to my apartment, packed my life into a pickup truck and headed home to my favorite chair and my cat, who's ecstatic to have me back. To my surprise, my parents are, too. ;)

For now, for this moment, it feels wonderful.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Being Catholic

I've been neglecting this place. I'm sorry. I'm barreling through my final days as a college student, and lately it seems that I've been trying to drink dry every moment of them.

Life should be like that. And sometimes, I find myself so consumed by the thought of, "Oh! I need to remember this so I can blog/tweet/Facebook/whatever it later!" that the experience I was trying to capture has passed by.

So, I've spent the last little while just observing. It feels good.

Two weeks ago now we were about to enter the Triduum. On Holy Thursday, I was working on deadline and panicked because everything hinged on a phone call. The call had to come that day, or I would be stuck until after the holiday. I carried my cell phone with me everywhere, and ironically when it rang, there were only 15 minutes to spare. (I was also in the bathroom at the time. So this is what journalism is about...)

With work behind me just in time, I flew down the block to St. Bridget's for Mass. When I slid into the pew and onto my knees, it took a long time to slow down my brain.

"Lift up your hearts," the priest tells us before Communion. We respond, "We lift them up to the Lord." For me, lifting up your heart means to leave behind your "life junk" for a while. I took a breath and steadied myself.

The Our Father came shortly after that as it always does, and my friends and I all reached for one another's hands. All around us, people did the same, and as incense floated over down over our heads, I could hear two languages chanting the prayer together.

That happens every day at Mass. But when I stopped and really listened, I was amazed at how much I missed around me.

Catholicism, more than any other flavor of Christianity, is so physical. Going to Mass slams all of your senses. Every gesture and word has a reason and purpose. All of those sounds and smells and tastes are tools that bring us closer to God.

The best part is that despite how different that huge crowd is, for an hour or so, we're identical. Maybe that's why we call ourselves catholic -- universal.