Jamie Johnson’s song “In Color” is one of my favorites. It seems my favorite past time is looking back and thinking how great it was then….whenever “then” was. Johnsons song speaks of old black and white pictures, and how as we look at them, the fact that they are not in color causes todays observer to miss some of the main emotions and realities of the moment when the picture was taken.
A similar conceptualization could be used about the average person when they look forward. I have never taken a scientific pole, but it would be interesting to find how many folks are exactly where they thought they would be when they made their plans as an 18 year old. Honestly, just a look in the mirror and my 18 year old self would faint at the toll time has taken on my physical appearance!
We love the past, we fear the future. The past is known. There are parts we look back to fondly, like the birth of all three of my boys, and there are parts of our past that we hide and never think about; like the time I read the gospel instead of the epistle when I was a seminarian reading to a church full of bishops. (That still brings shivers…it was 25 years ago!) What amazes me about that horrible note in my history is at the time I thought I was done. I had infuriated my professors, embarrassed my own bishop, and publicly humiliated myself to most of the conservative bishops in the United States. I was in seminary, under my bishop, and obviously wanted to work in a church in the US, I had not just torpedoed my career, I set off a nuclear bomb right at its center.
The moral to that horrible tale? Set your own ribbons! But also breathe, take another step and rely on God to chart your course. I not only was ordained as an Episcopal minister, but also am blessed by a priestly ministry in the Catholic Church, I have been tremendously blessed!
The past is written, the future is in God’s hands. Honestly I have no idea how I got through that one mistake, but God does; because it is only by His grace that I could have recovered. We all have these mistakes in our past, maybe not as bad as mine, but mistakes none the less. We can look back and picture it; but the picture doesn’t tell the whole story. Yes the embarrassment fades a bit, but that is not the part of the picture I am speaking of. God’s hand; picking us up and dusting us off, taking care of us, this is not seen in that black and white picture. (OK Im not that old but role with me on the analogy)
The future is just the same. Whatever comes, God is there to guide us with whatever we need. Mind you the need may be chastisement, but there are times in our lives that we need poverty and persecution, the Church grows in such conditions.
Don’t fear the new, we will see this future through with Gods help and grace. Pray for our parish, pray for our country.