What’s not to love? Father Nate is a beautiful person; the Holy Spirit shines from his face. Our fledgling church includes wonderfully cracked and broken people, gathered to love each other — and the world — into life. Fr. Nate wrote this lovely reflection on shepherding our little congregation:
Two Saturdays a month I break apart spongy, honey-scented hunks of Jesus’ body. With each communicant’s name I place them in the expectant palms of those who have gathered to eat at God’s table with all the other people the Spirit has caught in her net and dumped out, flopping and glistening, onto the dock. Ah, the Church!
The church I serve is a beautiful accident—people have slipped and fallen into the shining slick of grace that oozes from the table like so much chrism. …
Let me say first, that this spongy, honey-scented Jesus he mentions? Fr. Nate makes our Communion bread by hand, mixing and kneading and baking, and it tastes like grace. Hunk is the right word, too, because he gives us each a gigantic piece of Jesus, too big to consume before we drink from the cup of salvation!
The conclusion of his reflection brings tears to my eyes, because I recognize the sacred trust he refers to.
For someone to open up to me about [their vocation], whether “I’m discerning celibacy” or “I’m discerning the priesthood” or “I think I want to marry my significant other” or “I don’t think marriage is right for us” or “I think I might be trans” or any such deep place of questioning is an invitation into a sacred trust. To be invited into someone’s journey of vocation is to be invited into a place carved out by God for God in that person’s life—it is where that person will meet God and work out their salvation, where they will find their deeper vocation to become Christs in the world. Would it be right to tread on that sacred ground by imposing our will for that person’s vocation on them? The answer should be clear.
All told, it’s not for me to choose and live a person’s vocation for them; my job as a priest is to give them food for the journey and encourage them along the way.
I often get the privilege of walking beside someone for a while on their journey. When a person comes to me, they come with wounds – usually great, inflamed, smoking, terrifying wounds – and they ask if I can pray for them or if they can talk with me. My job is to stand there next to them and love them, and that’s what I do. I listen, and sometimes I say “Yeah, that sucks” and sometimes I say “Oh, that must have been awful” and sometimes the Holy Spirit gives me words of such wisdom and grace that I am amazed.
When my companion is able to stand and to walk, we walk together for a while in their journey. Eventually they find healing for their wounds and new life out of the darkness. They begin to see themselves as a Christ again. They are able to leap and to run and to dance.
I get to watch them dance away on their path, and I give great thanks to God for the privilege of walking with them for a time. I thank Jesus for allowing me to experience his own wounds as I share the wounds of other persons. I feel like I’ve given birth one more time, and even though it is exhausting and painful, I am so deeply grateful to stand on that sacred ground.
I wonder where you recognize that you’re standing on sacred ground.
I wonder when you think of what you’re doing as holy.
And I wonder whether I could ask the Holy Spirit to breathe through me, to make all of my days, all of my actions, all of my life holy, until that great day of the Parousia, when God will be all in all.