Thursday, January 10, 2008

Leap, and the Net Will Appear

Last week I got an email from the secretary of our department notifying us that there was an opening for a teaching position at Bishop Eustace Prep in Pennsauken. Courseload was three classes of theology, two classes of philosophy for the spring semester. I got a soft but sharp kick in the stomach when I read it, as if I were pregnant.

There are so many biblical injunctions that accompany and reaffirm this physical reaction, as in Luke 9:

And to another he said, "Follow me."
But he replied, "(Lord,) let me go first and bury my father."

But he answered him, "Let the dead bury their dead.
But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God."

And another said, "I will follow you, Lord, but first let me
say farewell to my family at home."

(To him) Jesus said, "No one who sets a hand to the plow
and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God."

Or Samuel:

"Here I am!"

Or Mary:

"Let it be done to me according to Thy will."

I am more like Augustine:

Yes Lord...but not yet!

I have no shortage of reasons to squirm out of something (specifically, teaching high school theology) God might be calling me to:
I still have three semesters of school left;
Starting a new job now would be too stressful;
I'm comfortable and have a lot of freedom in my present job;
I'm almost fully vested in my pension;
I don't know if I could deal with the stresses of teaching again;
It's too far away;
There's no money in Catholic schools;
I'm scared of change;
I'm lazy.

I don't think such a position at this point in time would work out. And maybe God isn't calling me to teach. But it was a wake up call anyway from the complacency and love of easy living that I'm bathing in now. I feel like I am in a fallow period in my life. I use being in school and making it to the five year mark with my company as my defense against a new assignment. And for the most part God has respected that--or at least it has coincided with His plan for me. I feel like I have been waiting for instructions for what my next step is and have gotten only silence. Rather than being distressed about it, I exhale a little and wipe my brow and get back to doing whatever it is I want to do, which is basically what I have made my spiritual life into.

This little kick in my gut has become one of those unsettling signs that maybe a change is in the air, like one of these nice 65 degree days we've been having lately in the middle of winter; it won't be long til sleepy crocuses start poking their heads through the ground and cherry blossoms begin to appear like popcorn popping all along Kelly Drive. This is the beauty beneath the surface of doing the Lord's work. But to me it just looks like work, and work that I am scared to do; if you love winter (I don't, just fyi), signs of spring are a bit unnerving.

But the Lord, the Benevolent Quadriplegic, counts on us to be His hands and feet on earth, like a big fat Lady in a moo-moo who points to what she wants with a cane because she can't get off the couch to get it herself. Sigh; love is service. Jesus said the harvest is great but the workers are few, and I think the reason for that is that everybody in town saw just how much there was to be done and realized they would be better off just keeping the jobs they had. No benefits, no guaranteed wages...just a promise that it would be worth it in the end.

So last night I was praying, sitting on my bed in my underwear talking to God. I prayed for Britney Spears, as usual, and for Rachel's baby, for Ryan, for my brothers, for the poor; in thanksgiving for Jeannie. Then I reached the end of my list and my dark room was quiet. A slice of moon squeezed some pale light through the narrow window, dully illuminating the white walls of my cell. We got real. And I said: I don't know what I want or what to do; I don't know what's good for me. I don't know what you want but I know I want to do it. So I ask of you only one thing: help me to know Your will, and do it.

And then I said goodnight and laid back on my pillow. I stared at the ceiling for a while. And then, as if I had just been kicked in the head, the Lord said to me: Go to your bookshelf; Saint Alphonsus will help you.

Like a remote controlled robot, I rose out of bed and went to the bookshelf and sandwiched so thin between two books that it was almost invisible, was a creased yellowed copy of St. Alphonsus': Uniformity with God's Will. Along with Jean Pierre de Caussade's Abandonment to Divine Providence, this is one of favorite spiritual texts due to its simplicity and lack of pretension. It is what I call a 'reminder piece': when we forget the most fundamental and important things in life, these little books, like children, remind us that what is best is also sometimes what is the most simple.

I read by candlelight; it was like getting reacquainted with an old friend. There was the quote by Blessed Henry Suso that I still remember by heart:

"I would rather be the vilest worm on earth by God's will,
than be a seraph by my own."

And David, the greatest man in history (and after whom I would like to name my firstborn son), who confessed: "My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready. Teach me to do thy will." As St. Alphonsus says, David was great because he asked God for one thing alone--to teach him to do his will.

1 comment:

Michelle's Spell said...

I loved this post. I love that you have David picked as the name of your first born! I love the biblical David! I suspect if I ever had a child I'd name him Anthony, after the saint and of course, Mr. Tony Soprano. :)