Saturday, October 26, 2013

Weeping and Laughing

The alarm went off at 6:00 so Gina could get up and have time to curl her hair. I had set my iPhone alarm for 7:00, but that was pretty pointless. I was wide awake. That gave me enough time to work in a short run this morning—which probably helped to burn off what would otherwise have been nervous energy. So I finished up my coffee, prayed my morning hour, walked and fed the dog, and hit the road.

I don't get out for morning runs often, but they are so good for clearing the head, cleansing the lungs, and focusing the thoughts. (It has other effects, too, so I was grateful that the coin-op on 28th was open, since the Elm Grove Park toilets were locked.)

As I was finishing the last 1.2 miles of the run down 28th, I considered God's mercy (particularly because my homily tomorrow will touch on that subject). I thought about the last 30 years of my life and where I have wound up. Karen, a friend at my parish whom I've known since high school (and a fellow air force brat), stopped me and Gina on our way out of mass and said, "Look where we are?" I don't think either of us would ever have thought we'd be working at the same parish and devoted to our faith.

So as I ran and considered this, and what God's mercy and love has done for me, and I began to weep... and to laugh.

Weeping and laughing. That's been my day. Intermittent weeping and laughing.

First, I imagine many of the people who have known me in the past would be floored to know that I have been ordained. The contrast between my life then and now is stark beyond the darkest and the most bright. Second, I'm a bit amazed that I made it through the formation process at all. The academic aspects weren't an issue, but I tell you, when you have a head for theology and a temperament for lawful goodness (my D&D/geek creds intrude here), it is really easy to be harsh in applying the cure. And I was zealous enough at times to give my future colleagues at the parish pause (rightly so). Third and most importantly, I know my frailties, vices, and nasty dispositions.

Why the heck would God choose someone like me? And here I am. At every moment in today's ordination, I thought about my bumbling way along the path. And here I am. Laughing and weeping at this joke God has played on the Diocese of Boise. (I didn't mention that I was baptized at the air base just 50 miles southeast of here.) This diocese welcomed me into the Body of Christ. It sanctified my marriage. It baptized all of our children. And now it has welcomed me into the order of the diaconate. Weeping and laughing.

When I wasn't just smiling, or praying, or doing something on the altar, I was weeping and laughing. (Okay, I was more accurately chuckling silently during the liturgy.)

The ordination rites went so much more quickly than the rest of the liturgy. We came up, knelt down, prostrated ourselves, and it was over so quickly. And it was done. Gina and my mentor, <fe>Deacon Bill</fe>, came and vested me. No undoing this! They can't take it back! Weeping and manical laughter!

(Not really. Weeping, yes. No maniacal laughter.)

It was a beautiful liturgy. Most of us who were ordained had family members assisting, and we also had so many people who traveled just to see the moment. I had family and friends, including another great friend, whom I won't name, and who did more than he suspects to help me back into the Church.

Weeping and laughing. All day.

I could go on all day about the love and grace from my fellow parishioners, friends from youth ministry, first and third-order religious, non-Catholic friends who came to celebrate)... and on. I am so grateful for all of you!

But I'm going to jump forward a bit to my family celebration. We had a simple little party at Smoky Mountain Pizza. The restaurant put us next to a soccer party, and I recognized a couple of the kids as members of our parish. They were a pretty rambunctious bunch, yet we managed to celebrate, eat, and communicate well enough. I was able to give some of my first blessings to family members, and I told them that I would likely be blessing people and things with abandon. After all, I'm just the human instrument. God gives the blessing. I'm just trying to be generous with God's grace (as if).

We left the restaurant, and everyone wended their way out of the parking lot. As I was turning out of the lot and into the adjoing alley, I remembered that just a little over 20 years ago, I used to pull into that same alley for work. The building that now houses Smoky Mountain Pizza once housed the Blue Note Cafe and the Blue Unicorn, a "metaphysical" bookshop. The place where my family celebrated my ordination was also the place were I, twenty years earlier, sold New Age books and supplies. Twenty years ago, I sold tarot cards and books on the occult in that very spot where we dined. Today, I blessed my family members at the same spot in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Our Lord and God has an amazing sense of humor.

Weeping laughing I began my day. Weeping and laughing I began my ministry. With God's aid, weeping and laughing it will end.
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