20 June 2007

The reason for my hope

Every Sunday when you go to Mass, though it isn't obvious in a sensory way, a miracle happens. When a baby is born. Miracle. A wayward child comes back to the Faith. Miracle. The breath you just took. One of many miracles.

Lately, people have been caught up in all the bad that is going on. Concentrating on differences, pointing fingers, judging, choosing to see the negative side of things instead of appreciating what they do have. I tell my children to be happy with what blessings they have, while not always providing them with such a good example. I am, however, an optimistic person. Not a pie-in-the-sky optimist, but one who has had some rough patches and come out on the other end more assured of God's love and mercy than if I had never struggled. I think we have all been there.

It's certainly easier to blog about what's wrong...at least for me it has been. But this just isn't an accurate reflection of who I am, not completely. No, I'm not the most pious, prayerful, or devoted person on the planet and I am significantly malnourished in the virtues. Lately, God has certainly given me a glimpse of where I am on the piety scale. But, I have also learned that I do have a deep faith; I do look at things as half-full. And, I am trying. Trying not to stagnate.

My father and I used to have philosophical/theological discussions. It's one thing I deeply miss now that he has passed away. (Maybe it's why I'm doing this blog, trying to keep the conversation going.) One thing that troubled me when he was still alive -- still standing between me and all that is bad out there -- was if I would have the faith to be a martyr. Not such a irrational question in this day. It always surprised me that my father unflinchingly and unhesitatingly replied that I would. I didn't know this for myself since I was only aware my faith wasn't that strong. But, my father believed it.

People who have read my blog know that my daughter was cured of spina bifida. Spina bifida isn't one of those things that just corrects itself or goes away or was misdiagnosed. It was what it was, and that was a serious medical condition. I can't explain it away and I certainly don't want to. Others cleverly dance around the topic and come up with a variety of alternative explanations. I find this curious. Why is it so hard to believe in miracles when they happen to us every day? Happen to us in the quiet and in the shouts. Happen especially, or so it seems, when we aren't paying attention.

A priest we told about my daughter's miracle responded, "Thanks be to God. Every breath you take is a miracle." At first, I thought he was diminishing what had happened. But, actually the opposite was true. He was drawing attention to the fact that God is abundantly generous with His love, mercy and even His miracles. Jaded and oblivious, we wonder why God hasn't answered our prayers, given us what we want, eased our burdens. It's the forest and the trees. Perspective and perception can either clarify or cloud everything.

God let the Israelites wander for 40 years. Likewise, God finally lost His patience with my luke-warm Catholicism after nearly that long. Ripped from the calm that had been my life, God had a plan for me that was beyond anything that I could remotely hope to control or alter on my own. He let me know I wasn't the one in charge.

The past few years have been the most difficult, but also the greatest period of my spiritual growth. I am a Cradle Catholic just learning to crawl.

My daughter's miracle was a gift of God's mercy. It brought me a profound sense of humility I wish I could bottle, always remember, especially when I get too big for my britches. However, the real miracle I got out of the tribulation that has been my life lately, is an answer. The answer is that, yes, I could be a martyr. Not that I'm capable of doing it on my own. Ha, far from it. No, that's part of the miracle. I learned that when the going gets tough, seemingly beyond my ability to cope, God can be trusted. Trusted so much that He would give me the grace to get me through whatever comes my way and I don't have to worry about being in charge. That it will be easy isn't part of the equation, the cup might not pass no matter how hard I pray, but He will take care of me always.

Another miracle.

"Venerate the Lord, that is, Christ, in your hearts. Should anyone ask you the reason for this hope of yours, be ever ready to reply, but speak gently and respectfully."
1 Peter 3:15

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