No Place for Reluctance in the Gospel Mission
The book is done. The editor has it. She wrote to say that it is moving to marketing and final copyediting. Time to open the champagne, right?
I couldn’t figure out what was going on inside me. Was I just having trouble accepting the end of the season of writing? Shouldn’t I be kicking up my heels and dancing about now? Was it like the Robert Frost poem I read in graduate school?
No. It was more than saying goodbye to the book-writing season. Sure, I love writing. But it was more than sadness that the writing was over. It was a fear of what comes next. The phase that isn’t a comfortable fit. The phase that challenges me, calls me from my comfort zone, comes with a little cross.
Now, it is time to share the story with the world, but not just by way of editors or in the pages of newspapers. This time, the sharing will come by way of my own feet, by my own lips, by where I go and what I say. Not simply by what I write.
Here, the words take on flesh. And I leave the comfort of home to share with others.
Today at morning Mass, I realized that I am a little intimidated by this next phase. Sure, I have given talks. I have even been on TV. But it has been the smaller part of what I do. Never first or foremost. This morning, I realized that I’m not merely reluctant to put the pen down. I am reluctant to go out to the world – out of myself.
I don’t know… this me. I know me-the-writer. I know me-the-contemplative. But the me that does radio shows and TV shows and gets on planes (okay, that part is kind of fun)… but the me that ascends the steps to share with crowds of a thousand or more… that me I don’t know so well. Strange, my articles have gone out to billions–yes, billions–but I have hid in the shadows while it happened.
Can I begin to see the sharing in the world as the primary thing? Yes. I had figured out what was going on.
But the Blessed Mother only permitted me to stay in this uncomfortable place for about two days. That’s when she looked at me like a mother does. She smiled at me as a mother smiles. And she reminded me…
I am not so different from her. Mary had her comfort zone. She had her bedroom, her family, her Nazareth. It was one thing to say yes to pregnancy, but then, that little boy was born. And she was being asked to pick Him up and share Him. With Joseph. With God in the Temple – and Anna and Simeon. With everyone.
Suddenly, that little baby that grew in the quiet, dark place of her womb–He had to go beyond the hidden place. And she had to take Him there. She had to do it. The gift had to be shared.
Mary is telling me something today. What is she telling you?
Is she saying that you have stayed too long in your comfort zone? Is she nudging you away from the shadows? Is she encouraging you by reminding you that she, too, was meek and preferred anonymity… but God had something else in mind for her?
Up…up…up. She says. A pen is good, but feet are better.
Go…go…go. She says. A writing chair is comfy, but the people will never come to you. The people will never come to Christ! Unless you go out.
Suddenly, the book is heavy. It was so light when I was writing it.
Suddenly, the baby Jesus was heavier. He was so light when she carried Him.
But now, He had to be shared…by way of her arms.
By way of her feet.
By way of her.
So, get up. Pick up the phone and do the interviews. Pack the suitcase and get on the plane. Mount the steps and take a place at the podium. The one who was most meek, most mild, most inclined to remain in the shadows has mounted the heights of Heaven. This Queen of Heaven has gone so far beyond her comfort zone that there is no land, no time, no people too far away.
And so it must be for us.