I Suppose You Like to Play Russian Roulette…

she said as she walked by.

I knew what she meant. She was talking about what others had talked about as well. Going to Africa, 20 hours and a world away by plane, when all the headlines are screaming “Ebola” at the top of their lungs. There was no sense in using logic, talking about the facts, showing people maps. All everyone heard was “Africa” and “Ebola” on the TV and nothing else seemed to matter.

They asked my boss if I was gong to be quarantined when I came back. I understand the consternation, but I’m saddened at how emotion has made everyone afraid of things with which they don’t have to be consumed. There are many countries in Africa but only four at the present have people with Ebola. My destination is more than the length of the United States away from the countries that do, and on and on, facts trying to climb the walls of emotion and take down a castle bit of misinformation. Still, when my plane takes off and heads east there will be questions.

I have my own as well. Will people want to be around me when I return? I’m a Priest and I wonder if people will take the Holy Gifts from me, hug me, or kiss my hand (although I’m not crazy about that anyway)? On my return will there be some magic day when all of it goes away and people feel safe around me even though the country where I am going , Uganda, has no Ebola and the realistic chances of me getting it are winning the lottery slim and my spreading is even longer odds?

Still, I’m going to go.

Some of it is, to be truthful, about the travel and adventure, both things I enjoy. When I was a child I would devour National Geographic and I’ve been around the world many times in my mind. Now its going to happen, for real. I love the diversity of culture and land and people and all the magnificent tapestry of creation and if I was a wealthy man I would probably invest that wealth in little else than taking it all in. There is beauty and grace everywhere because the One who called it into being is the very definition of both.

Yet, there’s more.

You see, the story of Jesus is true. When Jesus came to us God came to live with us, teach us, heal us, bear our sorrows, conquer our fears, overcome our sins, and join us to himself. Somewhere deep inside of me, even when my life wasn’t and isn’t always reflective of this Truth, I still understood and understand that it is real, authentic, and good. Of all the messages, all the claims to truth, all the words that could be spoken, what words would be better than those that tell the story of Jesus and invite people into a living encounter with a God who loves them more than they will ever understand? Not just a matter of duty, it should be our joy to proclaim, in word and deed, this hope for the world, especially in these challenging times. What hardness of heart would keep this most precious reality away from those we love, or, for that matter, anyone who crosses our path? What cause could be greater than to live this life and help people anywhere possible to come to know the Lord of Life?

I have so much to learn, about life, about Faith, about being a Priest. All I can do is go where I can help, listen, and serve. Most of the time all of that will happen right here where I’ve been planted. Some of the time there are things that need to be done in a far away place. Regardless, I’m in God’s hands and whatever else happens the glory is His.

 

 

A Good Thought…

 

How blessed and wonderful, beloved, are the gifts of God! Life in immortality, splendor in righteousness, truth in boldness, faith in confidence, continence in holiness: and all these things are submitted to our understanding. What, then, are the things which are being prepared for those who wait for Him? The Creator and Father of the ages, the All-holy One, Himself knows their greatness and beauty. Let us then strive to be found among the number of those that wait, that we may receive a share of the promised gifts.

St. Clement of Rome, Letter to the Corinthians 35.1-4 late 1st century

Something I Need Work On…

“Try to fill your soul with Christ so as not to have it empty. Your soul is like a cistern full of water. If you channel the water to the flowers, that is, to the virtues, you will experience true joy and all the thorns of evil will wither away. But if you channel the water to the weeds, these will grow and choke you and all the flowers will wither.”

Elder Porphyrios