Thursday, December 17, 2015

coughing towards bethlehem

Our thoughts are not easily God's thoughts, nor our wills His will. But as we listen to Him and converse with Him, our minds will be given to understand Him and His designs. The more we come through prayer to relish what is right, the better we shall work in our mission for the realization of the kingdom.
(Constitution of Holy Cross 3:22)

Living in a big city is not always easy.

Preach, Papa Francesco. Preach.

I talk about New York like it's a human; a lover.
A person who I have wrestled for graces and blessings all year; with whom I have weathered a tumultuous relationship.

Whenever I come back from NYC after being out of town, my gorge rises. I feel a wave of contempt churning inside of me.

I'm done, I vow quietly, furiously, running late to a meeting because the MTA sucks at everything except fucking you over. I'm done with dodging scaffolding and pedestrians and cat-callers and loud buses roaring by. I'm just done with the smog and the dirt and the noise.

Then, I settle back into the rhythm of cacophony, and I adapt to the chaos, and I forget to be dissatisfied. This will continue for a while. I'll roll out of town into the autumn world outside of the island, and I remember how much larger the world is outside of New York, and I miss being a part of that larger world. I miss being under the sky and in nature, actually in the world.

Formation is not supposed to be easy or likable, I remember.
I was complaining for the umpteenth time about New York City, when I remembered, and was rebuked: Formation is not supposed to be likable.
You are not supposed to be good at it.

You are simply supposed to be there.

After much travel, perhaps too much travel this fall, I remember that I am supposed to be here.

All the different threads of stories that could have been eventually trailed off. I am here.
But it is only here, in this terrible and beautiful and awful, shallow, delightful, radiant city of Manhattan that I would be who I am now.

All the other paths hint that life had planned the inevitable. I would have landed in a spot so similar to where I am now.

But I have chosen Manhattan, which meant I chose a great adventure. I chose to add new dimensions of myself, foreign even to me. It meant I chose to struggle through the shallow self-determined materialism to find a deeper joy.

Living a big city is not always easy, Papa Francesco reminds me, but the people here are hungry for Him just the same. They are thirsty for the light. And we are still called to be lightbearers and chose the light, in the midst of rush hour traffic and subway signs.

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