Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Advent & a Lame-Footed Friar

Reflections of a lamed-footed friar: Believing is seeing…

About five weeks ago I had an accident while climbing on some rocks that resulted in my heel being broken. In my normal stubbornness I refused to go to the ER immediately, but eventually the pain won out I discovered that I couldn’t simply “push through” and continue life as usual if didn’t want to permanently damage my foot or risk needing surgery. So contrary to all of my natural inclinations I decided to listen to the doctor and “stay off it” for a while. The transition from MACH 3 living to literally having to ask others to do even simple things like carry a cup of coffee to a table, fix me food, etc was perhaps more painful than the broken foot.

One step at a time going up and down in the friary, having to sit and rest after going from one place to the next. I hardly went outside for a month and was pining for freedom from my unexpected encounter with the cross. And then it happened. I looked out the window of my room and I saw a tree! I know it sounds woefully mundane and ordinary, but I had looked out my window countless times and never noticed it right there in front of me. It was beautiful, and I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. It was screaming with existence and there were tiny drops of water clinging to all its naked branches twisting about like the hair of someone who just finished sticking their finger in a socket to see if there was power or not. And as I thanked God for this simple tree and its beauty I began reflecting on the mystery of God’s presence all around us. How many times had I passed Him by? How many moments of my life was the Lord of All present and I was simply unaware or too busy to notice or care.

And then I thought about those shepherds who left there work in the fields to go to a stable and look on the face of a child. What did they see? I don’t imagine it was a radiant face, but the simple face a human child that yet when looked upon with “eyes that could see”, a heart that believed, revealed a tremendous Presence – the Presence of Emmanuel, God-with-us! Lord gives us “eyes that can see” so we recognize you not simply in a distant history or beautiful story, but in the reality of our own lives, where You desire to reveal your beauty and love to us each day.

+ Br. Malachy Joseph Napier, CFR
Harlem, NY
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