After attending my first Mass and subsequently deciding to attend inquiry classes, I lived a dual Sunday existence. I attended Wednesday evening inquiry class. On Sundays, I went to the 9AM Mass and received my blessing. I returned to my Baptist church in time for the 11AM service. Before long, I was so distracted during the Baptist service that I would sit there with my mind elsewhere. My family didn’t think I was seriously considering leaving our church. I helped with the youth at my church. At my last youth retreat with the Baptist church, I came to terms with the direction I was headed. I documented the following reflection:
John Tanner Retreat – Quiet Time Reflection August 29, 1998 10:30 AM
Seeking God’s Direction on the Nature Trail
God speaks loudest in the tranquility of nature. Tomorrow morning, I will be speaking to the youth about how to “Walk His Way.” Today, I’m asking God to show me His Way.
It’s my quiet time as I walk alone around the lake and into the woods of the nature trail. Contemplating the road before me, I am looking for God’s signposts. Passing by a bush, I notice one leaf is caught in the wind. It flutters with such frenzy. How oddly the one leaf stands out. “Here, look at me!” it seems to be shouting. I pause to watch for a moment, as the wind seems to only disturb this one leaf. Still bemused, I walk on.
I can no longer hear the laughs and screams of children at the beach. I hear only the birds, frogs, crickets, and the sound of my feet. Coming to a bridge over a running stream, I sit down on the bridge. Staring into the water below, I think about my life and the decision I am making to deepen my relationship with the Catholic Church. The sound of the rushing water over rocks is the sound of the Living Water and Eternal Spring of Jesus Christ. I am a rock in that spring. I feel the refreshing water flowing over my troubled spirit. I pray to God for guidance to be in His Will in my decision to step into fellowship with the Catholic Church. I sit on the bridge for what seems to be an eternity. I am meditating on the nature God created and bringing my mind to a quiet place. With a calmed spirit, I stand and continue to walk. The path I take leads me through the woods, across a moss covered bridge, and to a stone bench. I sit on the bench and look upward. I see slivers of blue sky above the trees. I look for God above the treetops and cry. “Jesus, let my prayers touch the hem of Your garment.” [Luke 9:40-48] Tears flow as water in the stream.
I pray, “Lord, is this where you would have me to go? Am I reading the signs right? Did you point me in this path nine years ago? Is it your voice calling me and not my own? The Eucharist is what I felt as a child but did not understand.” The faces of the Reformers flash in my mind – – Luther and Calvin. “But, what is Your truth God? I ache to know. Show me – – tell me please. I have so many questions. Yet, I believe You have given me signs along the way—more now than ever. This is not an easy change in my life and people do not understand. I know that Your Holy Spirit is speaking to me in Mass and I feel a calling. I am compelled with a passion to return every Sunday. I am reawakening to Your presence. Yet, I’m so afraid of making a wrong decision. I must be sure the voice I hear is Yours.”
I am quiet and listening.
Then, He speaks, “Remember the bush with only one leaf caught in the wind? Just as I have the power to single out just one leaf in the wind, I have singled you out for a purpose. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks. I have called — you.”
I pray, “God, please use me.”
He says, “I already am….”
I walk in peace to begin my journey to Initiation in the Catholic Church.