Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What I Want to Be When I Grow Up

I made a visit to our parish's adoration chapel yesterday for some much needed prayer time, and I saw my future. Well, what I hope to be my future. I finally know what I want to be when I grow up!

Just after 3pm, the Hour of Mercy, the exceptionally loud beeps of our security code box gizmo sounded - a sad necessity today, they say, to keep churches "safe." An old man cracked open the door, a chilly breeze swept into the candle lit womb of the Presence. I looked up to see a face cracked with age and layered with what appeared to be hard years. He saw me, then a smile broke over his wrinkled face and the years dropped off like old brown leaves. He turned and closed the door, then wordlessly shuffled towards the Tabernacle, just a few feet from the door (it's a mighty small chapel - the best kind in my opinion).

First, he knelt before the altar and gave a loving pat to the Golden Box that housed Divinity (also exceptionally small, like our hearts you might say). Then he opened the door that exposed a glass partition, revealing the Heart of Hearts in His Veiled Disguise. I'd forgotten to do this - or perhaps I was subconsciously waiting for this Simeon to appear in the Temple?

Next, he pulled out a little case from his pants pocket and cracked it open. He placed it on the altar, and just inches away from the Eucharistic Jesus, he began to whisper the prayers of the rosary. I could hear his s's and his t's, pronounced in slow and solemn procession, and once in awhile a little groan would escape his lips. I recalled the line from scripture; "... for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings."(Romans 8:26)

His hunched shoulders, his worn black shoes, his gentle caresses of the statues in that chapel all spoke to me and formed the shape of my prayer for the next thirty minutes. I was reading The Old Man and the Sea, as Rebecca said to me later. A man lost in the Sea of God, and for how long? How long had he swam in these divine waters of adoration? Of this Sea of Mercy? I watched his rhythmic movements and thought they must be a daily ritual for this old gnarled sailor of the spiritual life. And I was just a landlubber, a lackey, a deckhand still getting my sea-legs! But I know what I want to be when I grow up. A sailing man, with eyes watchful of the waves, and the gulls, and the dawn, and the deep, and the stars. "Unfurl the sails and let God steer us where He will," sang St. Bede.

Oh Jesus, Who walked on the waters of this world, teach me, lead me, help me hear you in the stillness and in the storm. Steady as she goes... 

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