I was going to put this as title: The Olympian, The Priest, The Child, a Not so Angry World!
More simply then, lest as I continue in the next essay the direct reflections on Pope Francis’ Exhortation we all start to feel there is no gentleness, light, hope in this world, three examples of people living out the Joy of the Gospel.
The Olympian: Whatever else may occur every four years in the Winter Olympics there are those moments which bring immense joy to our hearts, such as the snowboarder who won Canada’s first Olympic gold on home turf in Vancouver and replicated this feat in Sochi – in both cases the world media focused, rightly, on his relationship with his handicapped older brother and the visible fraternal love between them, the pride they take in each other, a powerful witness to the power of love, the dignity of the human person, be they filled with the youthful vigor of a designated Olympian or the courageous vigor of someone facing a lifelong challenge of muscles not as obedient as most of us take for granted.
The Priest: Prior to joining his community and going through the formation process and then seminary life to ordination, this brother-priest was a member of the American Military; saw combat overseas, suffered an undiagnosed brain injury, then undiagnosed PTSD, resulting several years after ordination in difficulty with his temper and a couple of addictions.
The response of his superiors and bishop has been, frankly, as the saying goes: ‘to throw him under the bus.’
He writes to me frequently, pouring out his struggles and pain, all the while struggling to believe in and witness to the power of the Cross taken up each day and lived.
Unlike the Olympian and his brother no one will be doing world media stories on the courage of this priest, his constant intercession for the human family, for all those who suffer/struggle with brain injuries, PTSD, addictions.
Not all lights are visible to everyone.
Innumerable are the courageous, generous, believing souls, men, women, children, throughout the world who are indeed shining lights of the Joy of the Gospel, but because they are forgotten deep in some chronic care hospital or mental ward or prison or nursing home or under cardboard in some alley, we blithely pass by, like some people in the Gospel passed by the man in the ditch.
The refusal to look at him, or if glancing not to recognize him as one like ourselves, does not change the reality he IS there, those others ARE among us, shining brightly if only we ask for eyes to see.
THE CHILD, whom I have known since she was born and who always loves to speak about Jesus, will soon be 12 years old and over the years has grown in her love of art, crafts and a love for the poor.
Several weeks ago she told me about her project of making coloured bracelets and that she had so many she wasn’t sure if she should keep making them or what to do with them.
I spoke with her about all the little girls in the children’s hospital in the city and that perhaps she could talk with her mother about donating bracelets to them to bring some colour and joy into their lives.
She beamed with joy at the idea.
Yesterday she and her mother went to the hospital to donate the bracelets.
Yes we do live in an angry world and the media is always overloaded with reports of this, that and the other anti-human, culture of death and darkness reports.
One way to de-angry this world, our human family, to push back, if not overcome, the culture of death and darkness, is to seek out, observe and tell one another stories of beauty and hope, of kindness and light, true LIFE stories, the witness of real people that LOVE is stronger.