Sunday, June 5, 2011

Expecting a Journey, Not a Miracle

After all my years as a newspaper reporter, you'd think I would be good at taking notes. But too many years have passed since that career. So I really can't say who, during the East Coast Fraternity Exercises, told us: "Expect a journey, not a miracle." Was it Father Rich in a homily? Father Carròn, on the videotape? One of them quoting Msgr. Luigi Giussani? I haven't a clue. But the wisdom of that thought has stuck to me.
So often, when I pray, I ask God to remove whatever it is I'm seeing as burden: Just get me through this exam. Heal my child. Get me a job. What am I saying, really? That our lives will be better if and when they are easier? When they are trouble free? Why, after all these years of living, do I continue to kid myself?

J., a young man in my School of Community, noted wisely: "But even when you get a miracle, it's just the start of another journey. " He told us this story. He had  returned to his parents' house after a couple of years out of state. He had come to the discovery that the career he'd chosen and trained for was not right for him. He prayed for a job while he figured out his true vocation. He landed one at the local supermarket and then he landed another one at a local high school. So the miracle came. But then the journey started again - determining how to juggle two jobs while training for a career that suited him better. The miracle began another journey.

As a mother, I know this. Struggling with infertility, I prayed and prayed for a baby. And then, I miscarried. I prayed for another child. And then, when the baby was born, I prayed for God to take away his serious illness. Years later, I prayed for the son, who had trouble finding friends. And then, when he found friends at last, I prayed he would make good decisions when he spent time with them.

What I keep forgetting is our lives are journeys in the presence of Mystery.  I keep forgetting the "thy will be done" part of our prayers.  At our wedding 18 years ago, I made sure my friend Keith played  the John Michael Talbot song "Be Not Afraid," because I was scared and I understood God goes before me. Always.

Then-Cardinal Ratzinger said this in the funeral homily of Msgr. Luigi Giussani: "to follow means to pass through a 'valley of darkness,' to take the Way of the Cross, and all the while to live in true joy."


  1. Thanks for reading, Fran. It's comforting to know that wiser people than me have struggled with this and can offer answers.