So I have some fun news: I am at the beach this week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
As cliche as it is, I love the beach. My first post-grad job was in coastal Virginia and living there was such a treat. That was 2014 and this will be the first time I’ve been back to a beach since that time (hence all the exclamation points above).
And while the picture below is not of me (it’s far too tan), it is a photo of one of my favorite beach activities.
As a complete book nerd, I have always been super keen on summer reading so in that spirit I have compiled a list of “summer reading” specifically for this blog. Since I already have a place on my blog for books I recommend, this list is dedicated to blog posts which I thought were really great (wouldn’t waste your time with the not-so-great ones) but which were not widely read. So take this chance to be a hipster and seize the opportunity to read them before they become popular and mainstream:
So I was traveling to Washington D.C. via the Amtrak, as I have no car, and I was absolutely struck by this guy who looked about college age and was also waiting for the train. He wore a brown leather jacket and looked as cool as one can look while sitting with one’s bag at a train stain at 6AM in the morning.
Anyway, what struck me about him was not any part of that vague physical description, it was instead what he did as we were both waiting.
Our departure platform was on the second floor of the building and, when this gentleman saw several middle-aged and older ladies making slow progress up the stairs with their respective bags, he went down the stairs to meet them half way and politely asked if he could carry their bags the remainder of the way up the stairs for them. The ladies were absolutely touched by his assistance and accepted the offer with flattered thanks. He, in turn, accepted their thanks with a humble nod and when he placed their bags at the top of the stairs he wished them a pleasant trip. He repeated this process so many times I lost count.
And as I was sitting there watching this unfold I finally understood something straight out of Mark 10:43 when all the disciples are discussing who is the greatest and they receive this answer,
Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant
I hear a lot in the news about these raging debates regarding what it truly means to be a man and what it truly means to be a woman. However, in my opinion, none of it ever gets anywhere close to the truth. Because in my mind, the truth is as simple as the above gospel quote. That the greatest man or woman is the one who serves everyone entrusted into their care and even those who are not, such as strangers who struggle with their baggage.
And in a world where everyone talks about influencing millions and having an exciting, fulfilling career in order to buy lots of things, I wanted to pay tribute to the young man who did not forget that sometimes the best way to lead is not through a social movement or a well-stated opinion but by example, because when I saw him I remembered something I all too often forget. And for that, I owe him my thanks.
While hanging out a group of friends recently, I had an extremely flattering experience. Somehow somebody mentioned my blog in passing and the other three people chimed in with their opinions and how they liked it. And I was flabbergasted (that word deserves a comeback and it captures the emotions of that moment perfectly) to the point where the friend who brought it up asked me “did you not think anyone actually read it?”
Partially. I mean, I see the stats confirming that my site gets traffic, but I still don’t think I’ll ever get over the shock that people beyond my supportive family would actually take the time to read my writing. But the thing that shocks me the most is also my absolute favorite thing about this blog: that the people who read it are the never the type you’d expect.
What I mean by that is, most blogs that have any sort of religious affiliation/religious words in the title only get read by people in that niche, people looking to read something explicitly religious or dealing with a political issue from a religious perspective, etc. But the majority of people who read my blog aren’t Catholic- and that’s awesome! I mean I’m always willing to share my faith because I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s the best thing that ever happened to me, but so much Catholic/Christian writing is geared towards other Catholic/Christian readers. That is not in itself a bad thing, but I see no reason for exclusivity. Because when I read Catholic/Christian writing it makes sense to me because I come from that background, but I worry that to the atheists and agnostics and people with no identifiable religion such pieces would look like Mandarin (i.e. another language), and they give up on it/become as discouraged as I would be if someone ever asked me to learn fluent Mandarin. (I picked Mandarin as an example specifically because I’ve heard that it’s difficult to master and is not a romance language so the same rules I’ve always followed when learning a language in the past would not apply).
So when I write my blog I get so excited when non-Catholics read it because learning a religion is a lot like learning a language in that before you can speak it confidently you must first learn to decipher what it means from a variety of sources, written text, verbal communication, in context of culture and community, and often in light of the ancient origins as well.
And I’m glad that even non-Catholics can come and enjoy what I’ve translated so far because with God each chapter somehow becomes better than the last. And the adventures I chronicle on this blog I am happy to share with whoever wants to wander the path along with me. Because I’ve always believed that time is our vessel, not our dwelling place and that the essence of true religion is simply a soul’s journey home. And the more that share the road with me the better the better the story becomes.