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'Something beautiful is going to happen'

Something beautiful is going to happen, the priest said at mass yesterday. And like Peter, he added, you will say, 'It is good that we are here.'

The priest then told everyone: Hang on; these are sad times, but something beautiful is going to happen. 

I wanted to cry. And I may have a little. 

I didn't know that the readings during Lent are designed to lead one to conversion in preparation for Easter. I don't know what I thought of how the readings are organized for the year. I probably never thought of it at all. 

But reading after reading, since Ash Wednesday mass, and now I think I feel a hand reaching out for mine.

***

Truth be told, I am not yet at the point where I go to mass and say, "It is good that I am here." Sometimes I still feel doubt and boredom and even annoyance. These days, I've also felt some resistance.

But I did say I'll do my best to observe Lent, so I still went to mass and still prayed for things. And then, not knowing what else to say, I just said to God, "Help me; I'm sorry."

A couple of weeks more to go. I'm hanging on. I'd like to believe that something beautiful is going to happen at the end of this.

"It is coming your way"

I was cleaning up my phone when I found a PDF file I didn't recognize. The file name was its_all_right.pdf, and since I need some affirmation today, I opened it and found this poem I don't remember searching for, much less downloading. 

I'm imagining it's a message from Future Me to Present Me. Thank you, Future Me!

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It's All Right
By William Stafford

Someone you trusted has treated you bad.
Someone has used you to vent their ill temper.
Did you expect anything different?
Your work--better than some others'--has languished,
neglected. Or a job you tried was too hard,
and you failed. Maybe weather or bad luck
spoiled what you did. That grudge, held against you
for years after you patched up, has flared,
and you've lost a friend for a time. Things
at home aren't so good; on the job your spirits
have sunk. But just when the worst bears down
you find a pretty bubble in your soup at noon,
and outside at work a bird says, "Hi!"
Slowly the sun creeps along the floor;
it is coming your way. It touches your shoe.

'Now is a very acceptable time'

"Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation." - 2 Corinthians 6:2b

This verse is supposed to precede today's Gospel, which is about loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you. 

My favorite apostle Paul wrote the letters to the Corinthians. He was also one of the best examples of Jesus loving his enemies.

Paul wasn't one of the original 12 apostles. In fact, he hadn't heard of Jesus before his death. He persecuted the early Christians, leading them to imprisonment and death by execution. 

And yet Jesus showed himself to Paul on the road to Damascus and changed his heart.

Paul went on to become one of the most important figures in the years following Jesus' death, writing 13 of the 27 books of The New Testament. To this day, his writings inspire a multitude of believers.

***

I discovered Paul through his letters. I was a young student at a Catholic school weighed down by the guilt of the Old Testament, and I was struck by how poetic the language of the Letters to the Corinthians was and how filled with love these books of the Bible were.

*** 

I always say I'm not a good Catholic. And I'm not, even in this Lenten journey. 

Yesterday, I had meat on a Friday. I was sorry, but I still ate the meat because there was nothing else. 

I could have fasted, I know. I'm sorry.

I have also done terrible things that I think God won't forgive me for. Sometimes, I'm not even sorry.

But now I think of Paul and the grace he received when he was most unworthy. When nobody would dare think he deserved an ounce of it.

He had a change of heart, and that turned into a lasting legacy that transformed the very thing he had wanted to kill then had come to love.

What a redemption arc.

*** 

I want a changed heart. Can it be now?