The Journey series
This week I find myself again in the position of starting my Mustard Seed the morning of posting. With so many distractions in our life it’s easy to lose sight of our priorities and obligations.
Yesterday, I mentally listed all the tasks I had before me. I then checked the box next to none of the above. I proceeded to spend an embarrassing amount of time playing one of two games I allow on my smartphone. The providers of the game added an enticement; if one completes a specified number of puzzles they receive two credits, randomly applied toward one of nine cute images which can be selected as the player’s avatar once three credits are achieved. I have no intention to use any of the images so the lure for me is only the right to use the images. Why is this so captivating?
I conclude that it is our abhorrence of limits that provides the stimulation to waste something whose limit we can’t stretch — time. We happily squander our time hacking away at limits we have no need to breech. Why do we do that?
It is my habit when I seek an answer I can’t quite grasp to pray. I often find inspiration that, at first glance, seems quite unrelated. Such was the case this time. What popped up is, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s.” How did this apply? I was giving time to something that didn’t deserve the time.
I don’t always understand my prayers, but I trust them. I dove deeper into the message. I imagined the context; Jesus was discussing taxation and asked for a coin. Is the coin significant? Yes! A coin has two sides. What is on the flip side? Render unto Peter the things which are Peter’s. I should expect to receive that which is mine. I should not expect — or chase — that which is not for me. Render unto each the things that are theirs. Do not stop with Caesar. We have obligations which ought to be met. Those obligations are more deserving of our time than is our entertainment.
Will I live according to this wisdom? I might for now, but probably not for very long. Then it will be time to pray again.
Next week: I’ll pray again.
Last week's Mustard Seed revealed my miraculous recovery from years of severe chronic pain. I told of my rejoicing after Fr Larre’s retreat and how others celebrated with me. My wife did not join in; she doubted my cure. She was too used to seeing my crazy antics. On our drive home from church I endured many sceptical and concerned sideways glances. Once home she continued to watch closely for my delusion to subsist. She was ready, at the first sign, to return me to hospital. I assured her, to no avail, that I was healed — she told me I needed to sleep and we would reassess things in the morning.
I decided I needed to pray. I needed to be the one leper who returned to thank Jesus. I learned over my years of suffering that the one place I could escape my wife’s observation was in the bathtub, so that had become my private retreat for uninterrupted prayers. After profusely thanking God for His gift of healing I stopped to listen and the following prayer came to me:
My dearest Lord, I ask that You grant me the honour of allowing me to be Your servant. Make me, like St Francis, an instrument of Your peace.
Take my feet and lead them where You need me to be. Take my hands and guide them to do the work You need to have done. Take my voice, dear Lord, and let it ever praise and glorify Your name and thank You for all Your graces and mercies. Inspire it, dear Lord, to speak the words You need to have said.
Take all my thoughts and my will and replace them with Your own, that I might never offend You again. Take all my senses and let them know only the beauty and goodness of Your creation. Take my mind and fill it with wisdom, that I might understand the needs You have of me and the needs of my fellow man. Take my heart and fill it with a pure and unending love for You and for my neighbour. Take my soul, dear Lord, and fill it with an unshakeable faith in You and in Your holy Church.
I have no merits, Lord, to justify this request; but You are the same God who sent Your Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer rejection, betrayal, humiliation, torture and death so that I might be saved. I beg You, therefore, through that same Divine Mercy, to grant that I might bear true fruit of Your vine, so that all who approach me may receive the seed of wisdom in their mind, the seed of love in their heart and the seed of faith in their soul and that they might also receive the nourishment that comes from the very roots of Your holy Church, so that those seeds might flourish and mature fully.
Knowing my own nature, Lord, I ask also that You allow Your mother, Mary, to watch over me, gently chastise me, and lead me back to the true path each time I stray.
I ask this in the name of Your Son, my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Divine Mercy Himself; who always has been, is, and always will be so good to me.
Next week: What Next?
Two weeks ago I recounted my battle with despair over years of severe chronic pain. I promised to post Promise Kept last week. I was, ironically, unable to keep my promise. This week I beg your pardon and present my delinquent post.
I was once again battling cellulitis with twice-daily visits to the hospital for IV antibiotics. This added burden compounded the detrimental effects of my opioids. I began having hallucinations, but they were very real to me. I saw the devil invade my body in the form of worms. I scrubbed myself with harsh detergents and salt to banish these parasites. I became paranoid. My doctor ordered me hospitalized.
By the fifth day in hospital my infection subsided and I demanded to be let home. My doctor opposed my release but eventually relented when my wife promised to return me if I became worse. I arrived home on a Saturday afternoon unable to do anything but rest. I could stomach nothing more than black tea and clear broth. The next day I attended Mass with my family but, as had become my norm, left at the start of the homily to sit in the foyer with my leg elevated. Our guest homilist, Fr Larre, previewed the Advent retreat he would present over the next three evenings. I returned, as usual, for the communion procession.
Back home, I remained unable to manage anything other than rest, black tea, and clear broth. Quite suddenly, at six o’clock Monday evening, I stood up and demanded we prepare for Fr Larre’s retreat. My wife protested, not agreeing until I promised that if I couldn’t remain in my pew for the entire Mass and retreat she could return me to hospital rather than bring me home.
My wife dropped me off in front of the church and went to park. Using my crutches, I made my way to our customary pew and began praying the Divine Mercy chaplet. As I prayed I felt wheels turning within my ankle and knew I was being healed.
When my wife joined me she saw I was crying and asked if I was in too much pain. “No,” I told her. “These are tears of joy.” She thought I was delusional. “I can walk,” I said. She knew I was delusional.
She was certain we would be heading for the hospital within the first few minutes of Mass. She watched me closely for her cue to insist we head to the hospital. To her surprise, I didn’t depart for the foyer at the homily. I remained calmly in our pew until time for communion. I rose, entered the aisle, backed up two paces, and let my wife ahead of me. Then I returned my crutches to the pew and walked up to the altar without the limp I had had for more than twenty years. My swelling and pain were gone.
After Mass I went out to the foyer and ran once around it, just because I knew I could. I returned and listened to Fr Larre’s talk. After his presentation, as attendees were departing, I began running, jumping, and dancing all about the foyer. I felt like Scrooge on Christmas morning – the Alistair Simm version! Parishioners who had watched me suffer for all those years celebrated with me. Others, unfamiliar with my plight, wondered what the heck was going on.
God accomplished what all the top doctors were incapable of, just as He promised.
Next week: The One Leper
Peter T Elliott