Simone Says

Early this morning, as I sipped my coffee and tried to ready myself for another day of teaching - the biblical command to "gird your loins" springs to mind - I stumbled upon a little quote from the French philosopher and mystic Simone Weil. In one of her letters addressed to Father Perrin, she writes:
But the greatest blessing you have brought me is of another order. In gaining my friendship by your charity (which I have never met anything to equal), you have provided me with a source of the most compelling and pure inspiration that is to be found among human things. For nothing among human things has such power to keep our gaze fixed ever more intensely on God, than friendship for the friends of God.
For some reason, these final words struck a chord deep within me. "Yes, of course!" I proclaimed when I read them. There is something so profoundly intuitive about what she wrote, yet something I think I too often forget.

These words echoed in my heart today when one of the seniors said to me, "Mr. D, you know that I have a hard time believing. But the fact that you believe makes it easier for me to believe."

Allow me to say, with all humility, that this is one of the nicest things a student has ever said to me. When I pressed him for more information, he shared with me that the way I live out my faith actually makes it appealing to him and encourages him to "go and do likewise." Christianity, it seems, had been reduced to a series of "do's and don'ts" and had lost its personal element. By getting to know a young(er) religious as a teacher, the student saw another dimension of Christianity: one that is joyful and excited to share the Gospel. In other words, my friendship with God has helped train this young man's eyes on God.

It is tempting to decry the secularization of our society. We throw tantrums about public displays of manger scenes or the Ten Commandments...but do we live our lives as though we take either one seriously? I can't say that a kitsch manger scene has ever helped me to focus more on God...although I can attest that myriad gestures of kindness and self-sacrificing love do remind me of the grace and burden of calling myself a Christian.

As we continue on our journey through Lent, it might not be a bad idea to take a moment to reflect on who the "friends of God" are in our lives. Perhaps it would be good to call some of these people and spend time with them; perhaps by gazing upon them, we might catch a glimmer of the splendor of this friendship or catch an ember of this friendship that might kindle a similar love in our own hearts.


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