There are short chapters. There are places we don’t linger in for too long. Shoes we take off when it’s not the right fit. Square pegs to round holes. The piece of the puzzle that you thought belonged here but really somewhere else. They are not wrong turns. These chapters matter to the story, for the lessons they teach and for the choices you end up making in their wake.
Running into a familiar scenario in today’s Gospel. (Mark 9:14-29)
When you have done everything you could.
When you have followed all kinds of advice.
When you have read all the information you need to.
When you have asked all sorts of people for their opinions.
Still, the problem is there.
Still, you are sick.
Still, what you’re asking for doesn’t come.
Still, you don’t have the answer.
And, still the bad spirit doesn’t go away.
Why can’t we drive it out?
What is the last thing you haven’t done?
The one thing you should have done.
The most powerful you can do against any kind of spirit.
Pray. This kind can only come out through prayer.
It’s when Grace, when He takes over.
I love the Gospel of Mark not because it’s the shortest but because it packs all the punches. Today’s Gospel has another snarky biting verse where Jesus said — “If you can? Everything is possible for one who believes.” right when the person asking Him for a miracle presented his doubts because they have done everything by then, and they don’t know what to do anymore.
So, that’s the other thing, maybe more important than the prayer, and what goes before the prayer — faith or belief. Prayer works when you believe. Check your heart or soul. Does it believe?
In a time of sorrow.
When everything is uncertain.
When everything feels lost.
When you feel unanchored — free but no direction.
He can. He did. He will.
So can you. So did you. So will you. With His grace. When you believe.
“I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief.”
I have been told that there are a few events in life when you are allowed a free wish.
When blowing out your birthday candle
On a wishbone
When you see a rainbow
When you visit a church for the first time
On a fountain
When you chance upon seeing a shooting star…
Why am I listing these things, you ask.
Just in the past few weeks, as I went on a trip halfway across the world, I was given way too many chances to make a wish.
Rome, Assisi, Orvieto, Florence, Siena, Padova, Venice. I have lost count of how many new churches I entered. From cathedrals to chapels. Knocking on the doors of heaven each time. Lighting candles at altars. Asking my saints for all their intercession.
Then, I stumbled upon fountains. Spewing and spraying their water at the height of noon, as dusk came, brilliant lights through the night. I even threw a coin in one of them. And a video to show for it. My five second shot at fame, I gamely and jokingly chide my mom who also was my camera crew.
You would think that I have these many things I may be wishing for. Or one thing I want fulfilled so fervently. Many or one that pushes all the silent whispers of my soul in those many moments.
And, as we left for home at the crack of dawn on our last day in Italy, there it was, just out of the blue, a shooting star.
And to be honest, each time I had my chance to make a wish, I thought of him. The memory of summer days spent also halfway across the world.
I just didn’t know what exactly to wish for or how to.
So, I just asked that wherever he may be, he is well.
And wherever I may be now or in the future, I will be well too.
Did I waste my wishes?
Well, each time I got bashful as I made my wishes, I get one audacious moment and mutter under my breath…
Who am I kidding, Lord? You know what is in this heart. This is why you keep granting me all these chances to make a wish. Make them come true, in their rightful time.
And with that, I stand up from the pew, throw the coin into the water, or follow the meteorite’s trail with my eye. And smile.
My Promise Keeper is at work.
This must be how grief feels. They come in waves. Ebbs like the tides. Just this palpable emptiness.
I am an only child. My family isn’t perfect. We also had entanglements, dark moments. Because vice tried to gnaw into us.
It’s been over a year since he was gone. Only now do the the tears start to roll. Only now do sobbing fits become appropriate. I miss my father. And he is not here.
I find it interesting how the stages of grief come to me all in one instant. Denial, rage, bargaining, depression, acceptance. All in one instant. Overwhelmed by the emotions taking over me, I turn to this fetal-like ball on my bed beside the wall. Will this pass someday? Do I want it to pass?
You see I was my father’s daughter. The apple of his eye. His weak link, or so I would like to think. That whenever he was about to fall into an abyss of darkness, my presence, my existence helped bring him back to the light, even if temporarily.
He was a good man with a dark vice. So, still a good man. And the suffering he had to endure before he passed must have been redemptive, to rescue a good man from his darkness so he can forever live in the light.
There are days I am foolish and tell myself that I would take his darkness over my emptiness. Then, in a fleeting moment I realize that I will take his peace over his darkness. And this emptiness, the feeling that he really is no longer around, is an assurance of his peace.
So, I must learn to live with this, not simply to move on from it. There is no moving on from the death of someone you loved. To live with it, as though he is watching me get my bearings back. To live with it, and be like who I was when he was proud of me, so I can be proud of myself too.
So, muffled by a pillow I sob a little more. Empty out the tears I could cry today. Later, I will brush my hair, wash my face, attempt to face the world with a smile.
I will and I have to.
Because I am my mother’s daughter too.
You know those moments when you feel as though you want to say something, but don’t know what. But deep inside your heart there is a longing for something.
This past weekend a dear friend of mine got married. It was a beautiful wedding, as theirs is also a beautiful love.
And I wondered when my turn would come. It’s a wide and arid desert, this journey as one, with no plus-one. I wondered how it would feel like, as I had forgotten how it is to be in a relationship by now. Besides, I don’t really regard most of the ‘relationships’ I’ve been in as valid. So, I prayed, but I didn’t know what to. Thus, I took to the Internet and asked Mr Google and Mr Facebook if they had pointers. Neither of them did, but in my heart was a voice showing me the way to what I want to share with you all today… What made my being single, this sacrament of waiting, feel that it’s now worth my while, until the right one comes along, or until I become the right girl for someone.
BE SATISFIED WITH ME
Everyone longs to give themselves completely to someone,
To have a deep soul relationship with another,
To be loved thoroughly and exclusively.
But to a Christian, God says,
“No, not until you are satisfied,
Fulfilled and content with being loved by me alone,
With giving yourself totally and unreservedly to me.
With having an intensely personal and unique relationship with me alone.
Discovering that only in me is your satisfaction to be found,
Will you be capable of the perfect human relationship,
That I have planned for you.
You will never be united to another
Until you are united with me.
Exclusive of anyone or anything else.
Exclusive of any other desires or longings.
I want you to stop planning, to stop wishing, and allow me to give you
The most thrilling plan existing . . . one you cannot imagine.
I want you to have the best.
Please allow me to bring it to you.
You just keep watching me, expecting the greatest things.
Keep experiencing the satisfaction that I am.
Keep listening and learning the things that I tell you.
Just wait, that’s all.
Don’t be anxious, don’t worry
Don’t look around at things others have gotten
Or that I have given them
Don’t look around at the things you think you want,
Just keep looking off and away up to me,
Or you’ll miss what I want to show you.
And then, when you’re ready, I’ll surprise you with a love
Far more wonderful than you could dream of.
You see, until you are ready, and until the one I have for you is ready,
I am working even at this moment
To have both of you ready at the same time.
Until you are both satisfied exclusively with me
And the life I’ve prepared for you,
You won’t be able to experience the love
That exemplifies your relationship with me.
And this is perfect love.
And, dear one, I want you to have this most wonderful love.
I want you to see in the flesh a picture of your relationship with me.
And to enjoy materially and concretely the everlasting union
Of beauty, perfection and love that I offer you with Myself.
Know that I love you utterly.
For I am God. Believe it and be satisfied.
-St. Anthony of Padua