Okay, okay, okay. So many priests and ministers and rabbis and deacons all talk about journey. I understand
that it may sound like a lot of ‘blah, blah, blah.’
But there was a time when I wasn’t on a journey. There was a time when I felt pretty alone and confused.
I was caught up in a steady stream of self-satisfying pursuits – and I had come to the place where nothing
seemed to satisfy any more. No! It wasn’t depression. No! It wasn’t boredom. It was a place in my life
when I had come to that ‘hole in the soul’ that Augustine talked about.
Interestingly enough – I was having a fair amount of success in the business world. I had befriended a
Jewish businessman. He worked for a large, international freight company. We had some business dealings in
common – and I really respected him a lot. I can’t go into details – I’ll call him Mike.
Mike had to admit something to his employer that likely could have cost him his job. Mike had the courage to go
to his boss (and then the boss’ boss, etc., etc.). Long story short – Mike held on – but it
could have cost him everything he had ever worked for.
In some ways – this example started me assessing my life and what I stood for. It didn’t seem like
I stood for much. Oh I had a wife and four kids and that was nice… but I violated a lot of ‘ground
rules’ because I didn’t really stand for any particular set of values.
In this timeframe, we moved. In our new community – my wife talked us into going to this
Church – trying a new place of worship. It was a Catholic Church – Catholicism was the faith of my
childhood so it wasn’t uncomfortable. Long story short – there was an Irish pastor there – and
on one of our Sunday visits – I heard him introduce himself as follows:
“My name is Father Pat – and I’m a recovering sinner.”
For some reason or other – this introduction resonated with me – and perhaps it pierced me.
My problem was that I was a sinner – but I couldn’t even introduce myself as a ‘recovering
I was stuck. Now, I don’t want to jump around – but many years later – when I read St.
Augustine’s book, Confessions… I came upon that now-familiar quote….
“I have learned to love you late, beauty at once so ancient and so new. You were within me,
and I was in the world outside myself. I searched for you outside myself, and disfigured though I was, I fell
upon the lovely things of your creation. You were with me, but I was not with you. You called me; you cried
aloud to me; you broke my barrier of deafness.”
That quotation is an eloquent way of saying what I think had been going on with me… searching
outside of myself for what had become dormant in me… and the beauty of creation that I failed to see around me.
I now ‘see’ that my journey is the journey of Augustine and most (wo)men. We need to be open
to God’s grace – to circumstance and timing…
For me – that time was when the Jewish businessman decided to make a risky, but important change in
his life. I was a sort of a witness to his becoming a healed man. And he helped propel me to the point of starting
my own journey.
So – if you are on the straight and narrow – and the wind has filled your sails and you are
doing well. Praise God! If you are in a sort of a dark or confusing place… if you wonder if it’s possible
to go back about fifty squares and start over again – I’m here to tell you, you can do it. I’ll even
try to share with you if that’s what you need.
I can do all this now because:
“My name is Deacon Tom…. And I’m a recovering sinner.”
To contact me, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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