Sunday, January 27, 2008

Silver Linings, Silver Wings & Sweet Symphonies

I returned to College Station three weeks ago, and I can tell something has already changed. It was almost as if I smelled or felt it in the air when I arrived on that Tuesday. The dependencies I felt last fall have been altered, but the more I spend time here in this hallowed place of mine, the more it becomes like home to me. It just feels natural to be here.

Something I came across during the return trek to Aggieland had something to do with weather phenomena, which to me was a little funny because a Gabriel García Márquez novella (Leaf Storm) I had read those weeks ago which has a character in the story, a priest, oddly enough called "the Pup." He does his weekly homilies not on the Gospels but on readings from the Bristol Almanac (it's part of the magical realism in his stories that I love so) and through some weird reality makes reading weather predictions/conditions into something profoundly theological and something even more meaningful than what is found at the surface of an event—in this case a weather event.

Well, I'm a very symbol-driven kind of person. I try to find the symbolic worth of things in my life. It's just my part of making sense of this whole crazy thing of life. However, I don't put too much worth into omens since things are what you make them out to be with what's been given. A helpless surrendering to omens only constricts your reality and your potential success in any endeavor, great or small. That being noted, I do like a good analogy or symbolic meaning to things. So here's my take on the Pup's knack of weather phenomena readings.

That Tuesday of my return was for me the first day in recent memory that it consistently rained in Houston, which happened to be on the same day I was driving up from Houston. It had been the most stormy and overwhelming drive from Houston in recent memory for me. Moving from that dark, humid storminess of Houston into the cool air of College Station, I felt distinctly welcoming aura to all of it. It was certainly the best homecoming weather I could ever imagine!

Throughout that day an analogy ran through my head. Just as the day's travels were, where the storms brooded overhead and the rains fell with the dark clouds hanging ominously, so there are the things in one's life holding one back from God's giving Light, His Word. Only once one is empowered to move beyond it, to push through what holds them from the warmth of the Light—those clouds of darkness—can one reach the delightful and pleasing journey's end. You might even get the treat of an accompanying rainbow, as there was that day I came back to College Station, or you may just get the treat of a beautiful sunset—as ones are so accustomed to here in Central Texas as well. All is just as well.

What matters most is that through pushing through those storm clouds can one finally see the silver linings on the outskirts of those very clouds of darkness previously so vexing. It is in peering back to what was the storms that haunted you before that allows you to not only tell yourself but the whole world that those things will not continue to hide you in darkness, to hide your city on a hill from the Light of Christ. As I stated in the last post, through faith there is hope. But neither of these, we are taught, can exist if there is not love between them.

Just as much as the Father and the Son love each other, the Holy Spirit dwells between them. So must we do with one another. We must have that bond of love and kindness to our fellow man. So often do we forget this bond of love. And I think I realize that I too have seen the effects of not nurturing this bond enough in the past month or so.

And so I turn my discussion from silver linings to silver wings. As over the break, I thought and prayed over a number of things going through my head and through my heart. Still, I am not sure how to fully address them, but I push forward in full knowledge that if I am faithful to Him, He will indeed provide for what is needed.

I had spent that time over the break in a very rewarding retreat of sorts, not in perfection but in spite of my imperfections. My times right now are indeed a great time of soaking as much as I can in, both academically and spiritually. It is in these imperfections of mine that I find myself, and I daily must remind myself that it is His Will and not mine that should be done. If only His were as clearly vocalized as mine, life would be so much easier!

My future is constantly being molded, created, and adjusted. It is intertwined with so many and— currently, at the same time—by seemingly so few. That is a key part of human existence, the development of our own future. For how do we even exist if not for having a future ahead of ourselves? We cannot exist as we are if there is nothing ahead, just as much as we cannot exist if there is nothing from our past existence.

It is in this molding of my future that my deepest of fears comes forth. A fear of loneliness. Fears tend to lean on the irrational side of things, and my deepest of ones is far from the exception to this axiom. This fear of loneliness acts as fog, until the sun of day can burn it away. It is then and there that the future looks bright. And so back and forth I am oscillating, even now.

In the past weeks I have put many thoughts to mind. I have thought of dear friends, ones leaving on silver wings, and thought very fondly of them. I have seen reminders of them in reminders of home in my travels to family in Louisiana. I have remembered others in repeated events of the past year. These bonds have been strengthened in my heart because of the reminders.

I do not tire in the fullness of life I feel. I do not dare grow weary. It is in weariness that fear and sin sets in. A weakening of the spirit leads to the weakening of the flesh. There is no doubt of this.

One good friend reminded me as of late of some important things to consider in my vocation call. I must consider what kind of love I am being called to. Is it a deep, intense love of the community? A deep call of service to the community? Or, is a deep, intense love of one in the community? A deep call of service and compassion to one and with one in the community?

I have oscillated greatly over this in the past few months. Too much for my own liking and sanity at times, but it is a decision process that is all too necessary. My issue has been that I don't want to exclude the Other. This causes the problem where I cannot preclude the Other from consideration. I cannot have a foot in either wade pool. I must decide. If not now, at some time in the future.

However, my good friend had also reminded me of a line from the great A&M film from the 1940's "We've Never Been Licked", of which I had watched a great deal over the break coincidentally. The line is where one of the main characters, Cyanide Jenkins, says to Nina Lambert, another of the main characters in whom he's deeply in love with: "If you don't walk on the railroad tracks, the train won't hit you." So true are those words...but how long should we stay on the tracks? The answer to that question never comes easy and rarely does it come quickly.

What is my deepest and most sincere desire? I want my breath taken away, not in the beauty of the person but in the beauty of the soul. I want to find the Other that I know is out there. I know not who she is, but I feel deep down that She is there. I speak not of romance for romance is not reality. I speak simply of a clear black-and-white reality in my heart. For in the end, it is my heart that leads and my mind that follows. It is creativity that comes from the heart and logic from the mind.

I want a family in which I can provide and bring to bear another generation to love God more fully. I want a family I can pass what I have learned of God's love so that it may be multiplied and sent forth to all the ends of the earth.

And so, I must still learn much, but God has blessed me with so much already. It is as if God has planted a chord which He plays over and over. It is a pleasing musical chord, a lyrical one that reverberates in the heart. I feel it calling back to me, even when I stray within my own heart from Him. It calls me back to Him. Slowly, it seems He adds more to that chord, the music is lengthened and stretched. Each day, more is added as He builds His sweet symphony.

Each person has their own musical chord planted within them that they move to in life. It is in their moving in which God calls them. Each moves within their own measure of time and tempo, until all are combined in harmony, each in tune to the other. That is how I see Heaven. Yet, that can be accomplished here on Earth, too, if only for brief moments. It is in those moments we wish never to leave that we taste that slice of Heaven, that we hear God's sweet symphonies.

How great is our God, in whom we trust. I cannot fathom how much He has done for me and my friends nor can I express with any justified eloquence His boundless compassion. I can only pray that in the end we hear that symphony in which God has created, indelibly unique, for each of us.

It is then fitting to close with the Gospel reading from today's Mass, one so regularly used when talking of religious vocations:
When Jesus heard that John had been arrested,
he withdrew to Galilee.
He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea,
in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali,
that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet
might be fulfilled:
Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles,
the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light,
on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death
light has arisen.

From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say,
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers,
Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew,
casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.
He said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
At once they left their nets and followed him.
He walked along from there and saw two other brothers,
James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets.
He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father
and followed him.
He went around all of Galilee,
teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom,
and curing every disease and illness among the people.

-- Matthew 4:12-23
This past Saturday's trip to Austin for the annual Pro-Life March started out as a foggy morning, shrouded in the haziness of uncertainty, but as the picture illustrates below from the Capitol that day, the sun's light came out for a beautiful day of calling to witness to God's love for all human life. There is always a silver lining to each cloud out there, if one only looks closely enough to find it.

Texas State Capitol: Saturday, January 26, 2008

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