Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The One Who Walks...

For a few weeks there, I had established a pretty good writing rhythm. Then, last Tuesday, I caught two flights to Northern Michigan and now I'm well established in the rectory at St. Ann's Church. Indeed, I'm so well established that I even started a Twitter account for the parish: SteAnneMackinac

It's hard to describe being dropped into the life of a parish. As it turns out, the associate pastor I was meant to assist has been indisposed for the last week, so I've done the daily masses, weekend masses, and weddings. This week I have two weddings, a visit from the bishop, two square-dances, two weddings (one the ritual, one with a mass), and we are hosting a soccer coach from Wales, and three students from U of D Jesuit doing service work on the island. I spend time with the latter group but they have their own chaperone to mind them!

Now today, July 14th, is the feast of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha. Her parents succumbed to smallpox when she was only four years old and the disease did not leave her unscathed: her face bore pockmarks and dimmed her eyesight so that it made it difficult to walk in the sunlight.  Indeed, her very name - Tekakwitha - is apparently Mohawk for "the one who walks groping her way."

Although it has been an exhilarating experience, I very much feels as I am one walking and groping my way along. I give one homily and must prepare for the next day's; I finished one wedding and had to begin to prepare for two more. I try to set up for Mass and people drop by and ask me to hear their confessions and it seems as though, with each boat, there arrives another person I know. Don't let, then, the idyllic setting of Mackinac Island fool you: underneath its placid exterior, a tumult of activity seethes beneath it!

Yet, for as much as I feel like I'm groping, I'm still possessed of a trust that so long as I offer my whole heart to the task ahead, God will make use of it. In today's readings for mass, we catch a glimpse of a frustrated Jesus: he's annoyed that people aren't getting the message of repentance he is preaching and enacting. They have faith enough to allow the miraculous to take place, but they don't seem willing to turn their whole selves toward Jesus. They want the Kingdom, but they want it on their terms, almost as though it came in an installment plan!

While there is probably some wisdom in easing oneself into pastoral work, I'm grateful to have been thrust into a bubbling cauldron. It's both exciting and exhausting and, even if I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing, I trust it'll be okay. I'm groping my way through but I entrust myself to God's grace and the people's mercy: they are teaching me how to be a priest!

Not for nothing, I do have a pretty beautiful place to learn the art of priesthood. This is a sunset view taken from our back porch just last night. As the weeks unfold, I'm sure I'll settle into a more reliable writing rhythm but, until that point, please know that I've landed well and am running at full-tilt. It's been a great first week and I'm excited for what remains in store!

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