Dear Family in Christ,
Last week, I had the great privilege of being away on vacation with 9 brother priests. It was a beautiful time of rest, recollection, and fraternity, not to mention the heat and sun.It is great to be home, even in the snow; back to the rhythms and routines of real life, and with you. In the spirit of returning home, I’d like to share three reflections from my time away.
An Appreciation for the Seasons of the Year
There is a line in one of the Church’s hymns for Morning Prayer, typically sung in the dead of winter, which praises God with the words, “You give the seasons of the year to take time’s heaviness away.” I’ve been captivated by this line since I first sang it, and I’m especially reminded of its profundity during these dark winter months. The seasons of the year display a cycle of ‘death and resurrection’ in nature, often echoed in our liturgical calendar. Each season possesses a unique beauty (and harshness), and as much as I loved the heat and the sun, a year of that would be all wrong. If you’re someone who struggles with winter, pray for the grace to see its beauty- even if only the fact that it’s temporary, and helps us appreciate summer.
2. An Appreciation for Responsibility
This past week, for the first time, no one (save for a few perceptive souls who cared to ask) called me ‘Father’- no one asked me for prayer or confession, called me to the hospital, or demanded a response to an email or voicemail or text. Without a doubt, this allowed me to rest and recover. After a few days, however, I realized what a blessing it is to be counted on, and how much I missed being able to serve- especially as a priest. Taking time to rest is not so much a break from the priesthood, but the necessary restoration that allows us to give more of ourselves.
3. The Relentless Mercy of God
Lastly, I was fortunate to spend a good chunk of time listening to the crash of the waves, and was reminded of a testimony given by one of my classmates in university: After years spent far from God, she felt the weight of her sin and was in despair of God’s mercy for her. One night, she walked along the ocean. As she listened to the waves, God spoke to her. He told her that His Merciful Love for her was like the waves crashing on the beach: relentless. As she was free to stay away from the waves, or turn her back on them, so she was free to reject God’s love. However, she was also unconditionally free to wade in, and let it wash over her as much and as often as she needed. It’s a beautiful image that has stuck with me for the better part of a decade, as a powerful reminder of how God loves me- and you.
That’s all for now! Until next time, may God bless you and keep you ever in the palm of His hand.