Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Sometimes when I clean my house, in an effort to do a quick and efficient job, I get a large box and pick up all of the scattered bits and just toss them in. It makes for a quick tidy, and there's always a chance to sort later.

Today my brain is a bit like that, or my thoughts, rather. I've spent the day picking up significant bits and tossing them into one big hopper. So part of my evening cool-down now is to go back and sort and articulate the theme.

Because the day, after all, is the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. Conversion is one of my favorite things to think about, even to dream affectionately about. Love this feast.

This morning I heard a really wonderful homily by the missionary priest who is helping at my parish these days. He spoke about his conversion that led him to embrace the priesthood, and about the events that jar us and move us and cause us, like St. Paul, to have a major course change. He spoke about the song "Here I am, Lord" which was instrumental in his conversion. This struck me, because a hymn (similar in theme, at least) called "Hark the Voice of Jesus Crying" had a role in my initial conversion to God as well, because it gave me the words to phrase my response to God's call.

Also early this morning, a friend happened to comment on a 10-year-old picture I had posted on Facebook, saying that she didn't think I had aged. This was one of those comments that banged around in my head all day on many different levels. What I thought about the most was how, as a child of perhaps nine or ten, I had decided that on the inside I had always been, and always would be, 33 years old. I have always been a serious-hearted person, so it seemed strangely fitting to me. But there is a nuance to this that I think can only be captured in the idea expressed in this Rich Mullins song, Growing Young.

The refrain perhaps says it best:
And everybody used to tell me big boys don't cry
Well I've been around enough to know that that was the lie
That held back the tears in the eyes of a thousand prodigal sons
Well we are children no more, we have sinned and grown old
And our Father still waits and He watches down the road
To see the crying boys come running back to His arms
And be growing young
Growing young
So, in my convoluted thought process, I hope the fact that I now don't seem to be aging (in the picture my friend referenced I was in my early 30s) stems from the fact that I'm now growing young instead of growing old. Because of my commitment to on-going conversion.

Another random bit: There is something that has happened in me within the last month. It's very, very significant, but of course I don't have all the words for it yet. I have a degree of freedom that I didn't have before. And I know this because I am more able to focus on what is immediately in my hand to do, and I'm able to know it has profound meaning. It's more real to me now that meaning is not off somewhere else in another time, another place, another circumstance, another ideal. The hidden, seemingly meaningless, and potentially irritating tasks I undertake each day, like sweeping up spilled cat litter or picking up socks, are truly my sharing in building the Kingdom of God, because they are bits of my life, which I am called to live with love, and united to Christ, my Lover. This, too, has been conversion.

Recently I wrote a song, which I used to do a lot of, but haven't done since about 1994. And I like it. Last night I was thinking of something else I want to write about, something I think holds a lot of people back from flinging their hearts open wide to conversion. And it is our difficulty in trusting God with our pleasures. We derive a certain pleasure from our own will, from our own agenda, and I think we tend to fear surrendering our will and our agenda because we fear conversion will remove that pleasure and there will be nothing suitable in its place that we will actually relish. In other words, I think we hesitate to trust that the way of Jesus can please us more than our own. Isn't this how we tend to face Lent? Oh my gosh, I don't want to give up xyz for Lent because I love it so much...  Why not go into Lent thinking I really want to be a happier person, and I know God loves me more than I could ever love myself, so why not turn my full face to Him, and let Him burn Himself deeply into me, barriers be damned! And let me share this adventure of passion with everyone my life touches, barriers be damned! Yeah, now there's a Lenten theme!

So. I guess the theme in my thought-hopper tonight is conversion. This is always my prayer for myself, for those I love, for those near to me, and for everyone who has ever touched my life. So it is my prayer for you, too.

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