Guiding Force – Father (Pt. 2)

My father.  A good man.
I hope he’s proud of what he sees in me.  The best in me – after all – comes from my both my parents, and I must attribute that quieter, more contemplative side I have, to my father.

What could I possibly say on a day like this, celebrating the man who raised me from when I was but a wee babby?  It’s a curious question, and one I’m just going to have to go for, seeing where thoughts take me.  Consider this my stream of consciousness henceforth.

I remember clambering atop this ropes course, back in 2012, looking down from the great heights, swinging precariously between two horizontal beams: a section of the giant’s ladder at Camp Friedlander.  Vaguely I heard my dad encouraging me, praising the speed with which I had achieved the last gap, and telling me to continue that same swiftness to gain the peak.  Well, that kept me invigorated, even when my legs felt leaden as I tried to lift them, straddle the beam, and spin upward.

I liken that to the everyday encouragement I receive from him, if regarding less physically taxing actions.  He’s seen me through the best of times, and the worst of times.  I remember not even a year ago, feeling discouraged during my driving practice sessions, and how he would wave aside the many mistakes I made (which could have injured either of us, truth be told), simply telling me to continue until I got it.  He has a very forward looking mentality, that, while not confined to the future, keeps that endgame in mind.

My Eagle Scout, my Freedom Award, my Religious Emblem, my Black Belt, my joining the P&G Resident Scholar Program, my going to Cincinnati State, my being a part of St. Gertrude HSYM.  With many “my’s”, sometimes I forget the source, the man who pushed me on towards them and kept me moving to achieve all these different life’s adventures.
Everything that he has done is truly for my embetterment, and my debt of gratitude to him is greater than I could possibly imagine.

I remember this one other specific time where we had perhaps the most difficult heart to heart ever (and yeah, my eyes are kind of tearing up as I remember it), and as we talked, there was that ever present fear that he would explode at me, but instead he just listened, and when I had finished, he spoke, showing great compassion, mercy, all things loving unto me.  I felt unworthy of it, that’s for sure, but he was there for me during that trial.  His contribution to that healing process was instrumental, and without him, I doubt I could have made it.

There are plenty of hurts and joys I talk with him about now, but that really was the catalyst, the beginning.  From great pain came a chance for greater closeness.  I always felt more like a stranger to my father before that point, and now I get to look back and realize how much changed on that dark night.

He was there for me from the beginning, and without him, the man I am today could never be.  I may not think myself a good man on most occasions, but whatever good virtues there are in me came from him and my mother, which obviously were gifted them by God Himself.

I fear a lot of times that I miss a lot of opportunities with him, either by exhaustion that puts me to sleep in the car while he’s driving, sacrificing that extra sleep so that I can get to school or work rested enough to make it through the day; the times I’m just sitting, frozen in front of my computer screen, my attention occupied by some cool new trailer or tv show; or just when I’m off doing my own thing in college or wherever.

I never meant for this to turn out so somber, but really, it is a grim reality that one day I will have to face everything without my father, the man who first taught me what it even meant to be a man; the one who taught me a respect for others, especially women; the man who taught me to love the outdoors, the thrill of adventure; the man who taught me to cherish every moment, every opportunity that comes my way, keeping those doors open and standing ready; the man who taught me to lead by example by his example; the man who has prepared and still is preparing me to fulfill my purpose: live life, and live it abundantly.

Thanks, Dad.  And Happy Father’s Day.

-M

Veilstruck

I was walking through the Cathedral, my eyes directed at the distant ceiling, the sounds of the congregation in the background of my mind.  I was lost in what one might term awestruck wonder, the kind that I hope to never lose.  I was there, focused on what I saw, and I began to think in rather odd terms:  Beauty… and the Beast.  You look at that and probably think, “What in the world?”

Sorry, sort of, I just go off on weird trains of thought that require much reining in, otherwise I end up further than one might expect.  No, the words came to mind because of the Church.  I am a visual creature, most men are, and I was drawn in, captivated in so many ways by what I saw.  Bound by a love for the richness of art and design, I would be very hard pressed not to see something worthy of some sense of pause, some rich moment in which I give my utmost attention to the sight that fills my vision.

This is why I say Beauty… and the Beast.  Because I am a beast, an odd creature most never quite grow accustomed to, random and tangential as I am at the strangest of times, in the least ideal environments.  I am grim in the face of happiness, and full of laughter in the somber night.  I am in opposition to what should be, yet I cannot escape my own nature.  A nature which looks on, and watches, and remembers.

The beauty of the Church of course, while in one sense may refer to the physical building, on a deeper level refers to the people that are the Church.  I think I’ve said before, that when I see something or someone beautiful, it’s very hard not to have a song spring to mind.  Well there was a tune in my head again as I paced under the great ceiling, a song of rejoicing, of praise for the wonders of the Lord.

Beauty draws us in, we know this, on so many different levels.  I might see the beauty of a woman, and in that moment, have a choice:  To rejoice in its goodness, in her purpose so to speak of being a sign of God’s boundless love for us; or to twist it and capture it as my own, selfish in my grasping that which is not mine.  Each time I encounter that choice, I think it is at its most dangerous when I forget that I have a choice in that instant.  To see it as it was meant to be seen, for what it was intended, is something that I hope to always remember.

Speaking of remembering, the spring semester is over, it has been since Monday’s end for me.  I confess, I had this sense of loss associated with the experience.  Now, I might be glad that it’s over for a while, but there is that nagging feeling of a loss of purpose.  I had something driving me, pushing me on with each passing moment.  Perhaps that’s why I’ll appreciate work so much when it comes for me shortly.  My skills will have their place, and I will remove myself from my wandering ways once more.

You see, I’ve had this dream that has captured me, to go out into the world, across the seas, and take the adventure that is given me.  My purpose will be to walk where the great Saints walked, to tread on the ground where the great Marian apparitions occurred, perhaps meet with the order that was started by my Confirmation namesake, the Benedictines of Monte Cassino.  Perhaps you’ve heard me say this before?  It wouldn’t surprise me; I don’t think I ever really change, deep down.  I’ve grown in some ways, both inside and out, but my spirit is as restless as ever.

A conundrum if you like, when I flit from one thing to the next.  The grass may seem greener on the other side, but when I step onto it, it becomes the burden that I wish to escape.  The thing is, true beauty is never something I wish to leave.  It leads to a healing of the heart, when we immerse ourselves in it, surround ourselves with it.  As my parish priest says, “We are called to worship in beauty.”  It draws us deeper, pulls us in and out, paradoxically.  Inward because we become more aware of ourselves in light of it, and outward, because it begs… wonder.

Now, the question then becomes, if beauty is so wondrous, and it leads to a healing of the heart by its effects, where then do we find this true beauty?  We lead very ordinary lives, day in, day out.  We reap the fruits that we sow, we chase the things that can be seen, and oftentimes we forsake the ability to pause and reflect in and on the moment.  It’s simply impossible to fully leave the world and live in the heart of the Church, unless you go with say, a contemplative religious order, and love the Lord in that way.

No, for us, the ordinary folk, finding that true beauty is in many ways, a more difficult path.  A divided call.  Come now, it can’t just be me?  I feel as if the parts of life stand opposed, separated.  I’ve managed to bring parts of my faith into my secular life that bridge the gap, such as the Liturgy of the Hours, and those fantastic Catholic individuals I’ve surrounded myself with as often as I can, but there will always be a part that’s lacking, that full integration and optimization if you will.

One of my favorite priests said that if there is something unsatisfactory, something in our current lives that we know should be to give us the best good, then we should take steps to change our situation, and – God-willing – we will find that good, whatever it may be.  You see, that’s the bit that tends to get me, this constant pursuit.  I suppose I’m a product of the culture, or perhaps it’s just my own laziness talking here, but I like it when things are given to me with little effort on my part.  I want to be fit or strong or able to defend myself better, but I dislike most times going out of my way to say, exercise or practice martial arts.  I want to finish my story, but every time I hit a block, I barely attempt to push past into a new territory of thought anymore.  It becomes a struggle to write even one or two sentences, and it’s slow progress, and I’m almost at the point of dropping it for a while.

Those examples are small things, relatively speaking, so now take the constant hunt for truth, beauty, and goodness that haunts my every waking moment.  I need and want it, but only on my terms, my way.  The minimal effort, so to speak.  I began this post in what I think are much more hopeful terms (keep in mind, that this was written over several days), but I appear to have tailed off into what we here in my head like to call utter “doom and gloom” mode.  Oh, perhaps the rain is affecting my mood.

The point – if you read nothing else, and skipped to the end bit – is that life is a pursuit.  It is difficult, it is messy, we slack off for quite a bit of it, and we will not find the fullness of beauty while still on earth.  Still, we have been given everything already, by our loving God.  Imagine a box of LEGOs that’s handed to you.  The best part oftentimes becomes the sorting through the pieces and building the creation.  That’s what life is, I think, that continual hunt for the correct LEGO pieces.  We might spend a while hunting for that right one; we might lose a few (don’t worry, there are extras for that); but in the end, so long as we keep at it, there is every possibility that we will have that wondrous masterpiece of a set.

So today, if one would say a prayer and – I would ask – take a look at our own pursuits of beauty, the efforts we take to seek God, and just ask Him for that “desire to desire”, then we may move forward.  I think it fitting, as we drop off into “summer bliss” and a state of perhaps slacking off a little (which is fine if done in moderation), that we do so with some sense of purpose, leaving threads to pick up once more when we realize it’s time to go on.  On towards summer.

– M

Thought Into Existence – The 100th

Here’s the second of previously started writings that I never got around to posting. This, I believe, came from early September of last year.  Why did I choose this one?  It’s a fair question.  I think it’s rather significant, and there’s a lot that goes into thoughts.  This of course becomes personal, and possibly egotistical, but ah, perhaps it’s time you met more of who I am.  As I’ve reached this kind of milestone, I think it’s due time for some memories and that oh so fun and lovely thing known as nostalgia.  With that, I begin.

~

“We’ve stumbled upon something.  Because God is unceasingly thinking about us, we continue to exist.”  Approximately what my best friend said, though with less of her finesse or characteristic speech patterns.  It’s highly likely that I just did both an injustice.

A while back, we were discussing superpowers, of all things, and the idea of being able to think someone to you.  However long you’re focused and thinking about them, they remain present, and it’s only when they leave your mind that they return to wherever they were.  Naturally, this power is something that should have a number of caveats, like some amount of control as to when it works, otherwise you might have dozens or even hundreds of people popping into existence next to you for the briefest of instances.
Though of course, my mind would definitely turn its attention to such individuals, and well, there goes my peace and quiet.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about… people… a lot.  I guess it’s just in our human nature, to have others on our minds.  My time at work is devoted to focus on people.  There’s that connection that every interaction needs to have, and it’s truly a life skill to have, being able to touch people with the most basic of things.

Well, what more basic and heartfelt way is there than a prayer for them? That’s often what happens at work. Whenever there’s a lull in the number of incoming guests and while I’m maybe cleaning or restocking something, I might ask that my mind be focused on who it needs to.

An odd feeling, instinctual in nature, was what struck me.  It was at 5pm today, and I had no idea what caused it.  There I was, having an immensely enjoyable time at work, when suddenly I felt it internally, like a shiver that lacked the icy surroundings.  It’s hard to be sure, but I knew in that moment that something wrong had happened somewhere.
I couldn’t be sure if someone I knew had been affected, and so I did the only thing I could: asked God to help… someone out there.

*The physicality of my power is of course, limited – but by the universality of the Church, I can go quite far indeed. This is perhaps part of the beauty of faith, that we can believe and hope in goodness, even if we might never see the results of that which we hold to.

It’s like… Legacy. You don’t get to see what remains in the aftermath of your leaving, in your wake. Lots of people are concerned with what sort of mark they’re leaving, what lives on beyond them.  I can only hope that I make a good impact, whether physical or spiritual.  I want to bring my loved ones home with me.  I don’t want to lose them.  That’s the mark I wish for, the mark of those I surround myself with, living evermore.

~

When I started writing this blog roughly four years ago, I never thought that I would end up where I am today.  If I try to think back and remember what I was concerned about at the time, it was probably the next fun Scouting activity I would attend, or perhaps the upcoming youth group meeting with 1×1 at Saint Maximilian Kolbe, or maybe not looking dumb in front of some girl I was trying to impress.

Back then, I was more girl crazy than in recent times – shocker, I know – and I do apologize to anyone who has seen me in such a state, at any stage of my young life.  In conjunction with that, I was a more violent, more boisterous, and more brash character, things which I must again apologize for, as they are traits not yet vanished from who I am.
Still, there were positives.  I was a more avid reader, a person who was keen on drawing and making art in various media forms; someone who was not easily distracted or dissuaded from any goal, no matter how preposterous.  I loved really getting outside and breathing life in; not taking the heavens down to me in my confinement, but instead shooting upward to place myself among them like the many skyward sparks from the fire that I built with my own two hands.

Over the years, with each piece of media absorbed, I began to take on different characteristics of the people I saw, both fictional and not.  I believe I’m a very “feely” person, a very empathetic fellow, and oftentimes, being that sort of character can get me into good and bad mindsets.  In time, I took on the fun childishness of the Doctor, the witty cynicism of Fish, the imagination of Rose, the determination of Will, the rage and guilt of Batman and Daredevil, the force of Kestin and Edict, and the foolish hope of… oh, that might actually be mine.

The point is, I’ve changed, and more than I could have expected.  When I began, all those years ago, I never expected that leaving Scouting would push me onward to new adventures in Trail Life and Saint Gertrude.  The funny thing is, when I worked at Camp Friedlander, during staff week, we took a trip to St. Gertrude’s for an early Sunday Mass, which was one of my first experiences with the church.  And again, St. Gertrude’s returned when my older sister was leading me and my peers through the Ad Altare Dei religious emblem program, when we went there for vespers with the brothers.  Again, a third time, when my family was exploring different parishes, it almost became our home parish.  Almost.  And I think there was a very good reason for it not being so.

The reason?  If we had taken to Saint Gertrude, everything that is now, College Kenosis, my membership in the UC Society of Saint Paul, my role as an Altar Server at Annunciation, all of that would be nonexistent.  Perhaps even Eagle Eye would have been lost.  I can look back on those moments now and understand why things went a certain way, I see where the Spirit led me on this long road.
Thus, with the present hardships I’m facing, I can hope for the day that I get to look back on those and say: “Yes, this led me to the great here and now, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

I’ve been fortunate in my life to have been a part of many great communities:  Tang Soo Do, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Sacred Heart of Jesus Homeschool Group, Kali, St. Max, The RPG Group, Trail Life, St. Gertrude, my year’s P&G Resident Scholar Program family, Chick-Fil-A, The SSP, Eagle Eye and my fellow Eaglets, the CState Crew, and others that I’ve forgotten.

They all had or currently have their turn in forming me, and the people I have met have been guides, friends, and companions all.  I’ve lost a lot of them over the years.  Some faded from memory, some through my own fault, some with a heartfelt farewell, and some with a promise of renewal in some future day.

My legacy, my very heart, has been in my friends and family.  That’s why I think of them often, why they still exist to me in all the greatness that I knew them as.  They have been and always will be my spirit, and my strength is in them, no matter how much they change and vanish into their own futures, their own separate paths, and no matter how weak I myself become.

The weight of life is heavy, and it is painful to carry alone, we all know this.  As I’ve changed, feeling a strange vulnerability that I hardly experienced in younger years, as my eyes were opened to this world I live in, others were my guardians, and they saw me through the most desperate of times.

That’s who I am.  I am many, yet one.  I am the amalgamation of my experiences, I am the countless lives I have dreamed, but most importantly, I am the son of the Most High.
I am… Migi.

To everyone in my life, thanks for being part of my journey.

“YCatholic” Or “The Journey”

Here begins my posting of old works left unpublished for… varying reasons.  Some thoughts were just unfinished, and I was loathe to put them out in their (more) unfinished form.  As such, this is me, mostly from a year ago.

~

In recent days, I’ve been asked: “Why are you Catholic?”  After much deliberation, here goes.

I find, in my ongoing journey in the Catholic Faith, that there is:

-Truth
At the end of the day, whether we want to admit it or not, we’re looking for something true.  Truth fulfills this desire within us.  It’s a powerful thing.  The truth of the matter is, I find answers to the occasional question I might have about my faith.  Trust but verify, right?  Sometimes I’ll ask why, questioning a teaching or even just looking for the reason behind why some occurrence takes place.  There’s a significance and order behind the universe.  It’s not some randomly pieced together thing.  As for God’s existence, I’m willing to take the bet that He’s real.  It was quite eloquently put in a book I read some time ago.  If the atheist is right, and God is fake and oblivion is real, then no matter what we do on earth – good or evil, we all go to the inevitable oblivion.  However, on the off-chance that I’m right, and God, Heaven, and hell are real, then… well… Are you willing to stake eternity on His nonexistence?

– Glory
Now, when I say glory, I don’t mean for myself, by myself.  I mean glory for the Church as a whole.  I’m not – nor should I be – looking to glorify myself.  I’m looking to be great through the efforts of the Church, that my fellow brothers and sisters, as well as myself, may one day stand at God’s side in Heaven as saints.  That’s my end goal.  That’s the glory I desire.  All this will pass away, whether we like it or not.  So we must aim for Heaven.  I’m not exactly uppity about the idea of going to hell, so let’s aim for glory, eh?

– Unity
Time and time again, I find myself seeking my Catholic friends.  My community, seeking Heaven’s merits, striving forward together even when darkness pulls us down.  And sure, we may sometimes be at odds as far as our personalities are concerned, but at the end, we have that binding tie of knowing that we are children of God.

– Hope
Never has any other community ever given me such hope as the Church has.  It’s hard to describe, but every time I find myself before the Blessed Sacrament, or surrounded by my brothers & sisters, I am filled with a hope for the future.

– Courage
Beyond giving one a purpose in life, something a few believe it’s all religion is good for, it also gives one courage.  The Church does more than hand you a stack of rules and say: “Follow these!” It also, blesses you with strength to proclaim the greatness of the Lord.  “Why would we do that?” you might ask, “God doesn’t need us to do anything on His behalf if He’s all powerful.”  No, He definitely does not need us, but we need Him.  We owe it to Him to show His love through our lives, and so He gives us courage in the face of adversity, as a father encourages and teaches a son to stand ready.  To rise.

 

*

– Freedom
To further that note, for perhaps I fail to explain it well, these rules that we’ve been given are – now that I know better – the roads by which our freedom is unlocked.  Freedom… for excellence.  As the athlete, by following the rules, is able to play the game and play it well; as the pianist, by learning the proper notes, is able to produce the desired song;  so we by obeying the Church’s teachings – teachings ordered toward our good and happiness – may experience true freedom.  I never regret not sinning, believe me.

– Love
And finally, the one that perhaps encompasses all the rest.  All these previous things have been given me by a loving God.  A God who is not a taskmaster, not malevolent or unjust, no, He is Love itself: perfect in all of His ways.  Perhaps I made the mistake of saying last year that I bet on His existence.  Let’s cast that aside, betting.  I don’t have to gamble with His reality.  I know Him, I’ve seen His works in my life, heh, in fact, I’ve seen Him.  Every time I go to Mass, or Adoration, I have seen Him.  Present, powerful.
What  is love?  Age old question, right?  Love is willing the good of the other.  We, who have had our wills corrupted by sin, have imperfect love.  God, in His perfection, is able to will the greatest good for us, to love us completely.  This is why we say He is Good, because, he is goodness in its fullness.  He brings everything to perfection within Himself.
That’s not to say that I’ve only received love from Catholics and no one else, but there is something key there, in our acknowledgement that Love comes from the Father.  We are loved by others because… God loved us first.  He continues to work through us and our imperfections, and by drawing us in, He brings us to perfection within Himself.

I could go on for quite a bit, but then I’m sure I would lose whatever final shreds of coherence I might have had, if any.  I’m still learning, both in terms of the teachings and expressing them.  The beauty is that one can never truly say it all.  There’s always something left to be discovered, to be shared by someone that God chose to speak through in a very specific way to touch a very specific someone.
The particularity of love, pushing us to a great beyond.

That’s probably what being Catholic is for me.  This joyful view of life, even in the midst of trial after trial.  It is the promise that at the end of the road, there lies a happiness that cannot be taken away.  Despite that, it doesn’t mean that life is a hellhole by any means; it’s a chance to move upward, steadily climbing the mountain to reach the peak.  And when we stand atop the heights, we’ll know it was all worth it.

-M

*Anything following the uh, star mark or whatever “*” is (asterisk?), denotes writings that are actually present day me, as opposed to early 2016 me.  Surprisingly, it does make a difference.

Heart Unbound

Closure.  That’s the word.
As hard as some things are, it’s always more difficult without closure.

If one reaches an end and receives closure, it’s quite the gift.  Some would rather do without it, but in many cases in life,  I think it’s worth it.  It’s the lightening of the heart from a weight you never really realized was there to begin with.  That’s what the gift affords you.

I’ve lived nearly two decades, and I’ve made many mistakes, some of which I will forever wonder about, but just this once, I’m not left without a clear finish line.  A clean break on the path, as it were; another marker to reference and be sure of as the next move is made.

Oh, there is or was pain involved, most of which I made myself, but it is outweighed somehow.

How?

Here’s the thing:  I’m not someone who thinks of happenings relating to one’s life as coincidences;  I take it as the Spirit reaching out to me.  Well, as far as noticing the signs, I believe it’s the Father pointing them out and teaching me; when I actually move and take action, I reckon it’s the Spirit working.

Before I saw all these… promptings… I felt overwhelmed, filled with a storm of anger thoroughly unwarranted by the situation.  My mind was more of a mess of emotion, fueled by a sort of buried madness.  Anyone else’s brains ever start to go into overdrive, becoming a blur, at which point hardly any coherent thought comes through?  That’s where I was, often.  I’d lost my sense of focus, and it became apparent throughout the days as I tried to work on a number of projects.

~

Maybe it was an experience at Mass… no, it was.  I remember it.  The first sign.

Father’s homily was quite the kick in the face, but it didn’t start there.  That Sunday, I felt more attentive to praying the Mass than I had in quite a while.  Reminds me of a quote from St. Irenaeus, actually (though there is some debate on whether he said it exactly or not).

“The glory of God is man fully alive, and the life of man is the vision of God.” and that’s what I felt.  As if all my senses, hampered by worry – not just over this one failure on my part, but also a number of matters related to my schoolwork – were kicked up several notches and suddenly unburdened.  I was able to see and pay attention to everything, but not be distracted by it (which is how I normally am at Mass, unfortunately).  This time, I felt right at home, truly in communion.
So when it came time for the homily, a time when I tend to zone out because of how hard it is to hear Father from the altar (shh, don’t tell, I do try), I was so there.  Amazing how God speaks if you actually listen to/for His word *coughs*.

Father’s homily spoke of finding three things, well, finding two things and doing the last for both of them:
-A companion
-A teacher
-Giving them a break

For this, I’ll focus on the things that really hit me in relation to what was happening, which were the first and last items on that list (the second – I’m pretty sure – is a push to continue my hunt for spiritual direction).
I’d heard it before, but he made note of the fact that John the Baptist sent his disciples to Christ.  Good companions lead one another on a journey of growth, with Heaven as the high goal.  Further still, he noted how Christ gives us specific companions, and… because they were given to us by Him… we shouldn’t easily turn our backs on them.
In a finishing blow, Father turned to the subject of expectations of others, how they won’t always meet ours, and sweet glory, how we’ll never meet theirs, so for Heaven’s sake… Don’t.  Give up.  Based on that.

Now, I must confess, I ignored this push for a bit, and as another day or so passed, well… it was St. Mother Teresa’s turn to smack me across the face, as I scrolled the endless Instagram feed:
“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person…”
Because that’s what I’d been waiting for.  Initiative from someone else, anyone else, so I wouldn’t have to move on my own.  Did I mention I’m a prideful person?  It was pride that was keeping me back from admitting my failure, unwilling to admit that I remained restless in guilt.  And so… in response to that, God made me see the caption underneath the St. Teresa photo, from Mother Angelica: “… start looking into your own life and attacking your pride in all of its many forms.”

So that’s two mothers smacking me upside the head.  A trinity of smacks to the cranium, if we add Father’s words.

~

Suffice it to say, I did what I felt was right, this time with surety that I don’t normally have.  And when it turned out the way it did, when it was over, I ran.  Not away, but to.
I ended up in adoration, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.  The chapel was mercifully empty, and there I stood before the tabernacle.

Those moments will forever remain locked within me, like a calm fire; not deadly or destructive in its ways, but comforting and warm.  It was my turn to make a promise.

And so with clarity, and to quote Venerable Fulton Sheen, I say: “Sometimes the only way the good Lord can get into some hearts is to break them.”

There, I admit it.  I have a heart, and it’s broken.  Don’t look at me all funny, I’m not made of stone.  However, the gaps are closing, and faster than I expected, to be honest.  Because right there, in the immediate aftermath, I can look back on what took place and see why God drew me back one last time: to right the wrongs, to fix what I had brought to ruin.  To leave this artwork at peace with it and move on.  Because it isn’t terrible, it isn’t faulty, it is… a beautiful ending.  And oftentimes, you’ll find that the most beautiful endings are the ones that cause the greatest pain.

So I’m beginning.  I am… me.  I do have an idea about where to go, placed in me during what I now consider another era altogether.  Who by?  The voice, the whisper that follows me beyond the bounds, guiding me forward.

Am I a good man?  Let’s find out.

-M

The Wanderer’s Spirit

I’m not a high schooler anymore.  Hope that’s clear.  No, somewhere along the line, I got old, grew up, and then suddenly I found out that I’d become a college student.
I’ve got all sorts of projects now, from CAD drawings and figuring out classes to the late night/early morning cycle that continually tests and proves that I’m not as young as I once was.  And I’m too young to say that, so clearly, something is wrong here.

At any rate, got through my first week, and naturally, that’s when life decided to kick me in the face and make me er, slightly sickish.  I survived, clearly, and I’ve decided to return the favor by kicking homework in the face.  Especially math.  I love math.  Especially finding the solution at the end.  There’s something extremely satisfying about that moment where everything clicks.
That part where all the gears align, all the pieces of the part you’re building just fit together, and every second feels ordered and centralized into one straight path.

And yet, I’ve become restless again.  You’d think having a schedule and things to constantly keep me busy would solve that, but no, now, after only a week, I’m yearning for a different kind of adventure than the one I have staring me in the face.
A longing to leave.  Just like a toddler receiving a gift it really wanted, I got school and busyness all over again.  It plays with it for a moment, and then it gets bored and decides it wants to move on to the next thing.  How unsatisfied I am with all that God’s given me right here and now!

I’m clearly the exact opposite of Saint Therese, who – by the way – I’m reading about right now.  Her Story of a Soul is great, but it’s also showing me that I have nowhere near that type of spirituality.  Not necessarily a bad thing, as there’s still her simple, lovely, childlike attitude to aspire to.  However, while she knew that she could trust that the Lord would show her the world from the convent, I instead wish to go and be out there.

I want to travel out of this comfortable part of the world that I exist in right now and see the realities that others face.  I want to go visit the Holy Lands; walk the length and breadth of Italy as I follow in the footsteps of Saints; see the Incorruptibles; return to Lourdes and make a more fervent and understood prayer as I enter its waters; trek the 500 miles of the Camino; and visit every single Marian apparition site.

I want to known as the traveler, the wanderer, simply seeing all that I can see of God’s creation before my time here is up.  A dream that I can only hope to fulfill one day in the far ahead future.  Part of me enjoys the familiarity of my surroundings, but the other desires a separation from it, not as part of any sanctioned travel, but just me, going and seeing what’s really out there!  A step outside this comfortable little bubble I live in, to face something so… beautifully intimidating in its magnitude.  After all, once you’ve had a taste of something great, you can’t help but want to go back.

When I was a child, I walked the streets of Rome; traipsed alongside the waves of Pescara, Italy; played in Vatican square; swam in the waters of Mexico; survived the blazing heat of the Philippines; and well… got sick in France, haha.
I remember praying my way up the steps of the Scala Sancta; seeing Padre Pio’s incorrupt body; and standing in awe of the Miracle of Lanciano.
I never really knew what I was doing there though, I didn’t really breathe it in.  I was a child, unable to really grasp what I was seeing then.

Why are all these memories only rising to the fore now?  Maybe because I’ve forgotten how to dream.  I love this place, this home of mine here, but it was through dreams that I explored.  And now, lacking those dreams that took me beyond my reality, I desire instead to bring the former into the latter.

If it’s His will… then I hope to go.  Once I’m done with my degree, then I intend to head out.  Finish what I started, then a new adventure.  Maybe it’ll happen, maybe it won’t, I’ll just have to wait and see.  It’s only a matter of time.

– M

The Paths We Choose… – Abide Pt. 12 Finale

How do you start the day? You wake up, maybe shower, get dressed in a desired set of clothes, and then kind of just begin, right? The point is, there’s a certain preparation involved there. A time before you truly move and go out to face the day. All in this world had a beginning, and all will have an end. Maybe not the most pleasant thought, but then of course, if nothing ever ended, nothing would ever get started.

Of course, that begs the question, what started all those movements? What or Who is the first mover? Because we all had to have come from somewhere, tracing lines back and oh so further back until nothing remained, no time, no space, just Him. Because no mere thing could have started us at the beginning, no accident could have led to our lives, there’s too much order there to claim happy accident. To everything, there is a purpose and path that it follows… and that includes us, my dear friends.

May I just say, before I launch into the end of this, that it is my honor and privilege to have you read about the things I experienced during this journey, as with every journey. It’s given me a unique opportunity to share, and also to recount, that I myself may never forget. I hope never to forget, because this was one of my many beginnings, a mark across my life.

I was outside, having dressed rather hurriedly, hoping to see the last sunrise of retreat. I missed it by a bit, but the sun was still calling me. I stood out there, looking heavenward, and who should have been preordained to arrive, but one of the core team, Megan. She asked me how my week had been and whether I’d found a theme, and normally, I would have said a simple, “Oh, it was good, and yes.” without much elaboration beyond that basic thought, but this time, I decided to share.

So I told her what had happened in a rather overarching idea that ended with the theme: joy in the suffering. That was my gift from God, that I would experience suffering in the time I could physically see Him, so that when I would eventually feel alone and in pain in the future, I would remember His presence. I would remember that He had not abandoned me then, and He would not abandon me now in time of distress.

I think I stunned her a bit with my uncharacteristically blunt honesty, but we didn’t have much time to discuss it further. She was on her own mission, and I was on my own way. I prayed the Angelus out there one more time (such a beautiful prayer it is, thank you Eagle Eye), and then headed inside.  I found my friends seated, as with previous days, waiting. Father Michael Mary arrived, he blessed the food, and we went in for breakfast.

Our morning keynote, our last keynote, spoke of our purpose, how each of us has our part in a greater story; greater perhaps, than we could have imagined. Case in point: Frodo and the his quest to destroy the Ring. He never saw the great movements he inspired by his self sacrifice, only heard tell of them in the aftermath. We never know what our part is in the grand scheme of things, but we can be assured of greatness; perhaps not of the kind that brings a dark lord’s kingdom crashing down as the earth quakes and enemies are reduced to ashes, but a kind that saves souls, returning them to the Lord’s own great and wondrous light. Our true calling.

We had final parish meetings all around, speaking of what was next for us. I managed to talk with my youth group leader before Mass, and he promised to reconnect the following week, to set me on my path during my college years. Then, at the conclusion of Mass, with all our families gathered, the farewells began: pictures, luggage grabbing, and goodbyes between old and new friends. While this was happening, I found myself speaking to Father Michael on the subject of spiritual direction, having already begun the movement that Matthew, Sister Rose, and Brad had all recommended to me.

As I talked with Father about this question on vocations I was having, I saw many of my friends walking out the doors, and I was aware that for many, it would be the last time I would see them for a long while, if ever again. Part of me wanted to go and rush to say farewell before it was too late, but I stayed rooted, listening and paying attention to what might well have set in motion the next stage of my life. That decision might well have seen to what I became next; my internal promise to obey Him, no matter what the cost.

Because in the end, it’s not up to me to decide that oh so tricky thing called fate. My path was seen long ago and far ahead, known and prepared by the One who made me. And no matter how many friends leave or sorrows I face, I must remember that something greater lies ahead. A greatness that I will understand at the end… the end which is a new beginning.

– M