Nail in My Foot

When I was a child, I remember my dad often bringing home items that were destined for the company surplus office furnishings pile.  This included large rolls of office grade carpet — where offices had been remodeled and the carpet discarded.  Often, the unworn carpet was an area large enough for a small room in my house.  The carpet would lie rolled up on our carport waiting to be used.

I remember once, when I was about seven, it was Winter and I was wearing black patent leather boots that zipped up just below my knees.  My parents were going out and I was going to spend the evening at my cousin’s house — they lived just around the block from my home.  While waiting for my parents outside, I walked around on top of the carpet rolls — like a balance beam — until my foot slipped down into the center — down onto baseboard stripping that still had protruding nails.   My breath sucked in — fearful, as I quickly pulled my leg up.  I had to pull my boot off the baseboard.  I was pretty sure a nail had pierced the sole of my boot  — but nothing hurt.  Maybe it was okay.  I didn’t want to look to see so I remained silent and told no one.

My parents dropped me off at my cousin’s house and we settled in with Jiffy Pop to watch Disney’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  Stretched out on the floor, I put it out of my mind.  But, my cousin’s were comfortable — shoeless — wearing socks — except for me.  My cousin’s mother grew suspicious that I’d not taken off my boots.  With little questioning, I blurted that I may have stepped on a nail.  This was quickly confirmed when my boot was pulled off to reveal a bloody sock.  I had waited long enough that my parents were afraid of infection and I was taken for a tetanus shot.  I was severely scolded for keeping silent so long.

Really, this encapsulates the way I’ve often approached unpleasant things in my life.  Don’t look.  Pretend it didn’t happen.  Don’t take the risk.  Don’t be a bother to anyone.  Don’t disturb my peaceful space.  If I don’t see it, it can’t hurt — it didn’t really happen.

Somehow I became the peacemaker of my family and that is the cross I bear.  Perhaps I have this resistance to the unpleasant to thank.   The burden of soothing hurt feelings — negotiating truces.   Softening the blow of bad news.  As the life of a close relative unraveled from alcohol, drugs, and mental imbalance; my peaceful space was all but gone — a knot in my stomach every time the phone rang.  The time came that no one could pretend there was not a problem.  The eyes of my mother desperate for hope for this loved one.  Saying that God is still in control and yet wondering why this cross is getting heavier.  More nails — not just my foot any longer.  Drawn into spiritual warfare — pulled to my knees in prayer ranting against Satan and pleading with God.

The nail in my foot is hurting now.  I close my eyes and I’m there again.

Today I am a Catholic and a Franciscan, but, years before I was either — I learned to pray the “Our Father” and “Make Me An Instrument” at AA meetings where my mother and I supported our family member.  I’ve stood between life and death with this loved one as we cycled through good times and bad — rehab here and there — hoping for a good year , or longer.   Now is as good as its been in a long time.

We all sat in family counseling once as part of one of the rehab programs — three generations of brokenness, hurt, and resentment.   The counselor looked at me and said, ‘You are the peacemaker.’  This diagnosis left me feeling less spiritual and more clinical.  Less angelic and more secular.   Yet I was affirmed and validated.

The nail in my foot — I exhale — less fear — more hope.

Peacemaker.

As they led him away they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country; and after laying the cross on him, they made him carry it behind Jesus. — Luke 23:26

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Immaculate Conception Fraternity SFO Jubilee

Today, the Immaculate Conception Fraternity of Secular Franciscans of Jonesboro, GA, Brothers and Sisters of St. Francis Region, celebrated their Jubilee Anniversary.  To honor this special occasion, we received a special Papal Blessing.

Jubilee Anniversary of Immaculate Conception Fraternity - Jonesboro, GA

Jubilee Anniversary of Immaculate Conception Fraternity - Jonesboro, GA

We celebrated a special Mass and luncheon at St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church in Jonesboro, GA.  Mass was celebrated by Fr. Michael Kolodziej, OFM Conv, Minister Provincial of the Saint Anthony of Padua Province.  Fr. Michael also delivered the homily which reflected on the “party” spirit of St. Francis as appropriate to our festive spirit.  Our Gospel reading was the parable of the Prodigal Son to which Fr. Michael likened St. Francis and challenged us to place ourselves in that Gospel as the father, the son, and the jealous brother.  
Concelebrating OFM Conventual Friars were Fr. Gregory Hartmayer (Pastor of St. Philip Benizi), Fr. Mark-Thomas Booth, Fr. Abelardo Huanca and Fr. Linus De Santis.  We were joined by brothers and sisters from neighboring fraternities in and outside of Georgia.  We are deeply grateful for the support of our First Order friars and fellow Secular Franciscans.

Each of our twelve dining tables had a table-scape reflecting a scene in Francis or Clare’s life.  The table-scapes were a collaboration of contributed items from fraternity members and those scavanged (with permission) from around our Franciscan parish.  Fr. Linus spoke at our luncheon and challenged us as the Penitents.  Not the sort of penitence that is inflicted through acts of self-mortification; but, the sort that is found in relationship with our brothers and sisters, “We are in continuing conversion.”  This is exactly what drew me to St. Francis — his love of the Gospel and I saw through his expression of Gospel life – a true model of continuing conversion.

 

Francis prays before the San Damiano cross

Francis prays before the San Damiano cross

Francis preaches to the birds

Francis preaches to the birds

 

Clare allows Francis to cut her beautiful locks of hair

Clare allows Francis to cut her beautiful locks of hair

Candle memorial table for our deceased brothers and sisters

Candle memorial table for our deceased brothers and sisters

 

Is living the Gospel of Jesus in the spirit of St. Francis calling you?

For The Love Of Christ

In considering a title for my blog, I go to the phrase that best describes my Christian journey.  Christ has been at the center of my life since I was a young child.  I will go into that more in later posts.

After coming to the Catholic church, I discovered Saint Francis lived his life “for the love of Christ.”  I came across one use of that phrase in “Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Creatures:  A Modern Spiritual Path” (Paul M. Allen & Joan deRis Allen, 2000). 

He told the friar who cut and chopped wood for the fire, that he must never cut down the whole tree, but remove branches in such a way that a part of the tree remained intact, out of love for Christ, who willed to accomplish our salvation on the wood of the cross.  p. 47

I thought about that image of salvation on the cross.  I considered the wounds of Christ and the eternal life that sprung forth.  I scribbled this image — refined it — and it is my own Tau — where leaves spring out from the wounds of Christ.

My Tau

 

 An all time favorite song of mine is “In Christ Alone” by Michael English.   It is a song I’ve listened to time and time again — heard live in concert.  Listen to the lyrics and they describe how I’d most like to be remembered.

 Note on Comments:  I have set the comment section to go to moderation for the first post of a user.  I will review and publish comments in the evening.  Once your comment has been approved, your comments will publish immediately.  Peace.