Opening Doors

58A39C47-8D1E-4164-B12E-05643D602A6AIt’s fun, when you encounter a new place, a B&B, someone’s house, a church, a new establishment, to see what’s behind the door.  The decor seems to often reflect the destination. If in the mountains there are forest scenes and bears, out west, cacti, broncos, and southwestern art, and along oceans and lakes, beach and nautical themes. Even though the locations may be similar, each place has its expression, and one can get to know the owner a bit through the decor.

Even churches and cathedrals can tell you something about the place, people or period, whether gilded in gold and silver, carved in marble, or using stone from fields and prisons.  They can be simple, or have a cherished gift, the Tilma, Infant of Prague, Veronica’s Veil, or tomb of a treasured Saint.

I too choose things that say something about me.  My home is simple, and doesn’t follow the latest trends.    The walls tell you that I like color, and my decor likely has meaning behind it…items from someone I cherish, religious pieces that inspire me, or souvenirs that spark great memories.

Our Creator has been as selective  in each of us also.  He uses us to share Himself. What part of Him can we learn about, in each one of His human expressions?  We sit and contemplate nature and it’s beauty, and that is good, but do we scrutinize the creation in each other?  What part of God escapes us, in those who we deem uninteresting?  What part of creation are we missing, because we can’t get beyond flesh…whether attractive or unattractive, disabled, emotionally needy, ignorant, obnoxious, criminal, politically opposite, successful, unpopular, unwanted, impoverished etc? What part of the Creator are we blind to, in humanity, when we can’t “see” our neighbor?  Would we be pleasantly surprised to discover a hidden treasure in someone, if we were invited in, …to encounter…  To encounter the Creator.

 

 

 

 

The Valor of Flight 93

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It was a beautiful day.  The sun was shining and the sky was a gorgeous blue.  As we approached Shanksville, I noticed, white streaks of vapor, contrails, evidence of the planes soaring above.  Hashtags in the sky on a peaceful, weather perfect day.  I imagine September 11, 2001 looked much the same in this scenic Pennsylvania community.  

When arriving at the Flight 93 Memorial, visitors first encounter a black sidewalk showing the pathway of the flight to the crash site.  There is a somber presence in the air as the events of 9/11 are reviewed in artistry on the grounds and in the Visitor Center.  There are phones to listen to the last messages from these passenger heroes. I say “passengers”, because this was no longer a US plane, it had been commandeered by a foreign entity.  

One debates with their-self, “Do I really want to hear these precious final words spoken to their loved ones?”  I decided that I would, but found it heartrending to listen for long. Short powerful messages of love, filled with courage and uncertainty, made you appreciate the strength and determination of these few. I was proud to be a fellow citizen along side of the heroes of flight 93, and grateful to the families, for sharing these intimate few second.  It may seem a bit macabre, but It was one of the most moving parts of our visit. It made their sacrifice hit close to home. It helped one understand their motivation.  Their take off was delayed, the flight 93 terrorists were off schedule, and that’s how the passengers found out about the fate of the other planes. If they did nothing, they certainly would die; however if they tried to thwart the terrorists, they had some hope of life, or at the very least a better outcome for those they left behind. One couldn’t help but take inventory themselves…What would I say or do?  They’re decision  was unanimous. They would take action. 

D21D785D-359B-47E7-AF33-5E2B6C77BA3FOne thing that I am certain of, without any official information, there was prayer.  On the plane or on the ground, no matter one’s declaration of faith, possibly your first time to try, this was a time for prayer.  The sacrifice of these few, the 40 plus one (an unborn baby) changed a nation. The “black boxes” were recovered only on this plane, and no others from the terrorist attacks. That alone changed security and air travel, helped to identify who the assailants were, and provided voice recordings of the struggle to regain control. We were united as a nation through these few, “minute men” to fight back. I was inspired to self evaluate, if in the face of my own mortality…

What would I have done?  I hope that I would have chosen as they did.  I hope that I can carry that same sentinent in my daily life, in the epic battle of good and evil in our world every day. That I too may choose with courage,  bravery and valor.  

 

“Peter Do You Love Me.”

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One day at Mass, I had an occasion to correct my son.  Before I said a word, I could see the remorse on his face, and was moved from disgruntled to compassion.  I drew him into an embrace.  I held him close to me, and told him that I loved him, and he needed to correct his behavior.  He sheepishly asked me what he had done.  I assured him that he could figure that part out.  I felt good about it. I wasn’t angry, I didn’t feel weighed down about it. It felt positive, constructive and effective. It felt like he was left with his dignity and autonomy. It made me think of Confession, and of St. Peter.  

When I go to confession, it too is in loving embrace. I take inventory, and come to God with my short comings.  I admit things about myself that I may be able to hide from the world, but God already knows.   When I leave confession, I feel happy, reinstated in grace, forgiven and not just with an empty slate, but a clean one without residue. I am told you are not only forgiven, but loved and  not starting over,  but starting anew, like Peter.

Jesus knew Peter’s remorse for denying Him.  Our Lord’s encounter with him, on the shore, after the resurrection, was all of this. He knew Peter’s heart.  His words were love, forgiveness and empowerment.  “Do you love Me?” are words of healing.  When Peter experienced his own answer, what perspective must have flooded Him. Jesus knew Peter loved him, hence it must have been Peter’s vision, that was muddled. Jesus provided clarity.  I believe “Feed My sheep” were words of total forgiveness, but not only that, they were a reinstatement. To Peter’s ears, our beautiful Jesus said to him again. “Peter you are rock, and upon this rock I will build My Church.”  It makes me think of my favorite line from from “Dr Who”, “Do you think that I care for you so little that betraying me, would make a difference?”.  Jesus said to him this doesn’t change that I’m entrusting you with what is Mine, what is precious.  Peter, you are still “rock” to Me.  Just like Peter, when I’m leaving the confessional, I don’t only feel forgiven, but restored to who God calls me to be.

I will try to respond to my son more like this.  That’s not to say a mother’s look and tone of voice aren’t effective tools, but my hope is to correct with a gentle spirit,  I want my son to feel love, forgiveness and restoration.  I want my son to know that his mistakes don’t change who he is to me.  I want him to experience from me the forgiveness I get in Confession.