Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Redemption of Maggie Maria

But if we look at the sower in the parable, he sows with extravagance, he is not phased by the fleeting concerns that worry us. 
--The Pastor at the Church I Found Outside Central Park On My Run Through Central Park. The Catholic Nerd in Me Lasted 48 Hours in NYC Before Rearing Its Stubborn Head and Demanding to Go Church-Exploring ASAP.

Every once in a while, love demands extravagance: extravagance from the giver and extravagance from the recipient. Extravagance in giving oneself away, extravagance in spreading what one can to the other humans in your life.
I started last week annoyed, irritable, hungry, and more than a little exhausted. When I get a little exhausted either two things happen: I withdraw from human beings and read a book or journal my eyebrows off or chatter a rant-y monologue at the geese that line the lakes.
Or, more disastrously, if I stay in the presence of other humans I'll do rash things like giving them my honest opinions about their behavior.
Either way, it is not a pretty picture, and it is better for all of humanity if my bout of the grumpies passes as quickly as possible.
So, I took a lot of time that Monday--that not-too hot July Monday--and I first of all: read.
I had missed breakfast, and I immediately flared up in red-hot anger with myself. Renée, you beastliest of all humans, how can you look at yourself?? nay, how can you live with yourself!? You overslept breakfast at the dining hall. The routine is destroyed; the day is ruined. Let dark, dark anger descend upon thy soul and furrow the gentle meadow of thy brow.
Being not yet infinitely wise, but still moderately intelligent, I correctly identified my bout of soul-sucking sorrow for what it was: getting up on the wrong side of the bed, exhaustion, and transition. An overdose of transition. I woke up that Monday knowing that the end of that week meant saying good-bye to Notre Dame.
Although I tried to soothe the beast inside of me (by treating myself to Starbucks. duh) and a peaceful bench on which to read Dorothy Sayers, I felt that I could muster up all the enthusiasm and energy of a sea cucumber.
I took a nap, hoping to restore my resources of good cheer.
I wandered into the office to help with registration, and complained to various friends that today was the most Monday-ish of Mondays. One of them pointed me in the direction of muffins in charming cupcake wrappers and the other offered me a Krispy Kreme doughnut.
I have very good friends.
Lethargy dogged my steps, however, until I finally came face-to-face with the high school students--seven lovely young women--whom I would be leading this week.
As we talked and laughed over dinner, I felt my energy renewed.
But it wasn't until we sat in a circle and I listened to them when I finally understood the alarmingly high stakes of that moment, of that week, of that summer.
I found a lull in the small group--a microscopic lull. In that lull, I could choose to insert myself, or to let the conversation continue without me.
The grumpy, crabby creature that had awoken that morning would certainly have chose to let the moment slide. In her apathy, the moment would have past, and the conversation would have flowed pleasantly without her.
But in that moment, I realized that the truth could either be spoken or not spoken.
That I could say what was on the tip of my tongue, or I could let it grow stale and fade into the white noise of campus all around me.
But if I never spoke up to say it, when would someone?
If these girls never heard the truth fall from my lips, when would they hear it?
Probably often, because the sower sows with a lavish prodigality, and never ceases to cast seed with joyful abandon all over the soil of our hearts.
Which was exactly why I had to say something.
What if it was this seed that fell on rich ground and took root?
What if my lips were to become the hand of the sower.
So I said something. Because when it comes to people's souls, one ought not to screw around, you know?
There are times when you realize you have the marvelous and terrifying power of actually making a difference in the order of events in the world. If you reach out and ask that sad looking boy if he needs help, or if if you tell that woman who looks frazzled to have a good day, or if you smile at the man who is frowning, then you may actually spread light where no light would have gone.
When you actually begin to understand the awful power of influence that our wills have over the course of events and the lives of our neighbors, something inside of you starts to burn. You realize how little control you have over anything, and how much you must do something.
In that moment, I realized the grave and beautiful responsibility of knowing the truth inside of you:
You must speak it.

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