Monday, October 15, 2012

I wonder as I wander

30-year-old Christopher, an awesome Daddy

Today my oldest child, Christopher, turns 30-years-old.

Instead of going off on thoughts and jokes about how old that makes me feel—and in Christopher's honor—I am posting today (an edited version of) one of my published columns in Catholic Parent Magazine.

¡Feliz cumpleaños my Sonshine!

22-year-old Christopher

At the center of my often overly-cluttered prayer table, next to the candle and above my Bible, I keep a card with a simple prayer by Catherine Doherty, the founder of Madonna House, “Give me the heart of a child and the awesome courage to live it out.”
How the Lord must shake his head at our reverse interpretation of his command to learn how to be disciples from the little children.
I was having this conversation with my children one day on the way home from school. I don’t know how the topic began, or why I found myself verbalizing out loud how baffled I feel by our culture’s—and our own—lack of understanding about being child-like.
What I do remember is my teenage son’s response.
Without hesitation, our oldest child glanced at me smiling, “That’s easy, Mom,” he paused. “That’s because most people find it impossible to wonder about things, to live with mystery.”
I ignored his sister’s teasing about whether Christopher meant “wonder” or “wander,” feeling startled both by his certainty and by the wisdom in his simplicity.
As adults, it’s natural and even proper to seek scientific or mathematical answers to our world. We have entire academic disciplines designed to analyze events and to explain causes for behavior and situations. And we make up formulas and add up percentages to predict the future—and often to calm our anxiety.

But inevitably, no matter how hard we try, we bump against mystery—that reality that applies to both the big and small, consequential and inconsequential questions of life. Everything does not have an answer, at least not an answer that satisfies us.
The reality is that, as Catholic Christians, our basic belief in an incarnational God and a Eucharistic world will make us constantly at odds with our culture’s quest for control and explanations.

After all, mystery is intrinsic to the Creed we profess each Sunday. A God who came down from heaven to become one like us. Both fully divine and fully human. The Holy Spirit. One God in three Persons. Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to heaven. The resurrection of the dead. Life everlasting.

Christopher was right. When I allow myself to wonder, I become open to mystery. Rather than get bogged down by it all, I can bring God my doubts, my questions, my worries over the future.

Like the children in the gospel story, I can go and sit with Jesus and share with him the child-like wonder of my heart: I wonder why my friend responded that way. I wonder why I felt so sad today. I wonder how I can help my daughter with her struggle.

Lord, grant me the awesome courage to live it out.

1-year-old Christopher