The Bicycle

So a few days back I was talking with my cousin and somehow the topic of heaven came up. I told him that I want to see what the Saints see when they die: I want the Beatific Vision, which, just to put us all on the same page, is the direct communication of God to the individual person (ie heaven in full). My cousin responded, “ooohhhh no I could never be a saint.” I insisted “anyone can be a saint!” All it takes is the will to be open to Gods love. He countered with, “oohhhhhh no I’ve done too much.” And he said it with such certainty that it made me kind of sad. Because so have I.

It’s true.  Everyone assumes that because I’m nice and usually cracking jokes and currently practicing a child-like dependence on God as a way to live out my Catholic faith that I’m somehow immune to struggle. That I’ve never tangoed with the temptations of the world. Most of all that I was simply born this way, the happy Catholic with a nice family whose goodness doesn’t count somehow because it’s easy for me.

Ha!

These are all lies. Lies that surround a lot of Christians trying to live their faith. Because when you put a genuine faith in God into practice you will bear fruit. God’s love will transform you into the beautiful new creation you were always meant to be. But this process is far from easy.

And the idea that Christianity is something reserved exclusively for “the good” is an extremely dangerous one that echoes the Jansenist heresy (the heresy that claims you have to be perfect for God to love you).

Because the truth is God loves my cousin (let’s call him Tom for the purposes of this post) and I just know that nothing would make God happier than sharing Himself with Tom, after all He’s Tom’s Father. And think about it from a parent’s perspective- is there anything your child can do that would really cause you to stop loving them?

But back to the issue at hand, Tom has realized that he is not worthy of God because of his sins. And Tom might mistakenly think that I somehow am, because I’m religious and all that. But I know my sins better than Tom and trust me I’m not worthy of God either, and certainly not the Beatific Vision I want in heaven. So why is Tom certain he won’t see it while I’m certain that I will?

To explain, I have to tell a story that involves a bicycle (if you were wondering where this post got its title). When I was a little girl I used to like to bike at warp speed down this huge hill into the cul de sac by my house. One day I turned too sharply into the cul de sac and completely bikewiped out. The bike fell on top of my fifty-pound body (I was a super scrawny kid until the delights of puberty) and I had scrapes all over, especially my knees and elbows. Pretty sure my helmet was askew too.
And I started to cry like little children do, not just from the pain but from the shock of the crash and having no idea what to do next. Fortunately, a kindly neighbor came out, picked up the bike, put me back on my feet, and escorted both myself and the bicycle back to my house where my dad was waiting. I thought he’d be mad, but instead he was compassionate, bandaged me up, and told me I’d get ’em next time.

I think the love of God goes a lot like that. We’re riding along and everything is smooth sailing and suddenly we fall into sin and were lost. I think he’s more than happy to send the right people to come help us, and ready to heal us Himself, if we would only just trust Him enough to let Him do it, to let Him close to us, even though we’re all dirty and scraped up. He’s the last to judge. He doesn’t want anything from us, no expectations or wishing we were just better like our other brothers and sisters. He just wants to love us. Each of us. He is love itself, to the point where He is so selfless that His happiness doesn’t have any self-interest in it, His only desire is to love us and see us completed and totally healed by that love. That’s what satisfies His heart.

And I try to love God, myself, and others not from some twisted, social obligation that comes from our relativistic society right after a recommendation that we buy Nike running wear and eat a holistic diet, but because I want to see the Beatific Vision when I die. And the more I practice living in love, the more I see it now, while here on earth. And my response to that love is why I come off to my cousin the way that I do.

And even though he doubts I know I’ll see Tom in heaven, especially now that he knows my secret. That I don’t deserve the Beatific Vision or any praise at all for anything, but I will accept heaven as a gift from my Father because He is generous and He loves me so much. And by being in His presence, both in my life on earth and long after my earthly death, I hope I learn to love Him too. And I hope the same for my cousin.

And in fact, I hope the same for you, whoever you are.

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Nothin’ Much

So remember how in the early 2000s whenever someone would ask you “what’s up?” you were basically obligated to answer “nothin’ much.” Well, there is actually much going on. So much in fact that I haven’t caught up with my thoughts and emotions satisfactorily enough to blog about them (I wasn’t sure whether satisfactorily was a word until my Grammarly app approved it- sweet app if you like writing but tend towards bad grammar like me). But I can tell you a few things for right now.

Since I unapologetically admit to being the creative type all the time I’ve taken myself off the Monday, Tuesday, Thursday writing schedule. Unfortunately, I just don’t seem to get inspired on schedule- it tends to come in waves. So I’ve decided I’ll try to write at least three times a week, and it will probably sometimes be more than that and sometimes less. Because the truth is the deadlines are just an added stress that will turn this thing to crap because instead of putting meaningful content, I’ll just put content to stick to my schedule, and that will suck for everyone. (By the way I write you’d think I’d have a large dedicated readership that’s actually super affected by this news! But I care about the small loyal few! When I find a writer I like I basically stalk their website for new posts so the consistency idea started with that in mind- thought I could spare you all some stalking. You’re welcome.) But the important thing to remember is that I’m not going to abandon this thing anytime soon. I actually really like it a lot. It’s just a place to share my contemplations- or my musings I guess I should say. And it’s been really cool to see people connect with that. So again thank you, thanks for hanging in there as I’m learning how to do this. And especially for hanging on through this post because blog updates are kind of dull. Prepare yourself for posts that get back to the beginning of things, back to the heart of what this was for: a forum for the deep and the mundane to be mixed together as I ponder the meaning of life in general (but you know, in a fun, lightly sarcastic but generally loving way).

As a nice throwback, I submitted the post “Dad Jokes” for publication and it got published! Hooray! It’s definitely one of my favorites. If you didn’t catch it here’s the link:

http://www.catholic365.com/article/1942/dad-jokes.html

Have a great weekend! And I hope you come back for more stories…

writing

Dad Jokes

dad jokes

So today I got to thinking about my parents as I was sitting with them both at the breakfast table. They celebrated their thirtieth wedding anniversary in October of last year. Now my dad is the type of guy who has a very sweet, ironic sense of humor. He just cracks himself up and to be honest with you all I do the exact same thing. Our love of puns is what bonds us because I truly believe that jokes are the Holy Spirit’s way of bonding people in Christian fellowship. In fact we can test out this theory right now:

Why was the turkey invited to join the band? Because he brought his own drumsticks!

Even if that joke didn’t do it for ya if you saw the enthusiasm my dad and I use to deliver these jokes you’d at least maybe crack a half smile to give us an A for a sincere effort in making you laugh.

So why am I musing about jokes-weren’t we talking about marriage?

We were. Because marriage is a holy sacrament and my parents have been together so long and faced so many of their trials together that they have a few clear rituals, rituals they return to in the midst of life’s storm that help them stay on track. One of my favorites to watch is my dad’s exercise and or going to the pool routine. Every time before he leaves the house he shares with my mom where he’s going and promises that he will try his best and avoid all the ladies who hit on him and remind them that he is a married man. Then my mom acts jealous and warns him that he better not! I personally enjoy this spectacle because to me it’s not just funny it is hilarious. The reason I find is so hilarious is the irony. I know for a fact that my father is a one woman man and would never leave my mom, and I know that my mom is never insecure in my father’s love because she trusts him around other women. This is their ritual, one of many, that strengthens the vows they made the day they chose each other over anyone else in the world.

It might be the finest play I have ever seen, and it’s been free to me my whole life. My siblings and I always smile when we hear that too because it’s great to see faithfulness play out between two people over the course of time. Imagine how much God must smile when He sees this romance of the vow. That must be why all the sacraments and mysteries of the church have ritual, so that we can call to mind the significance of our covenant with God and better understand the secrets at the center of His Fatherly Heart.