Monday, August 18, 2008

Milestones and millstone

Today is my friend Fr. Tom W's thirty-second sober birthday. Hooray for the Higher Power! What a miracle of God's grace! And what a blessing that he's been able to share that sobriety and his journey of recovery with so many people for so long now.

It's because of Tom that I have given over 100 weekend retreats for folks recovering from addictions over the past seventeen years. I spent five months with him during my last year of priest-school, running around the country learning how to do what he does.

Though it often felt like a junket, it was an opportunity to apprentice with a master, with the best of the best. Hanging out at Stinson Beach so much of the time when we weren't on the road didn't hurt, however!

Through Tom I've met many of the folks who've become my closest friends: Susan R, Bobette, Karin, Glenn L, Msgr. Terry, Owen, Gary, Terry O, Jim H, Mary C, Steve L, Cormac B, Kevin T, Bert W, Patricia F, Brian B -- and too many more to mention this late at night when I need to get to sleep!

I never knew that so many people didn't have last names! Go figure.

It was Tom who first said to me, as we were on the road from the Bay Area to Seattle (he was going there for AA's fifty-fifth birthday party): "You should have known that your God is too small, Tim. Your God hates all the same people *you* do!"

[As an aside, I *hate* it when people tell me, with great unctuousness, 'you should have known'....] Boy, did I want to strangle him. But he was driving, and I figured that might be counterproductive.

But, boy, was he correct!!

Since that time, then, I've put my God on a strenuous conditioning program. Steroids, too. And it's worked!

My God, as I've alluded to in earlier posts is very, very, very big these days, and getting bigger by the nanosecond.

That's a good thing, especially on days like today when I learned that one of my colleagues in the Biology Department at my first college-teaching gig was struck by a car while he was riding his bicycle and killed yesterday. He was just a few years older than me.

I'd not seen Miles in about eight years, but found myself deeply saddened. How I wish I could be there to grieve with his beautiful wife Peggy and their two children! So much powerlessness!

But a very, very, very big -- and constantly getting bigger -- Higher Power remains able to bring life even out of the most death-dealing of circumstances. Cold comfort in the midst of immediate, shocking loss, but a comfort that warms and soothes, eventually.

I'm glad too, for a really big God in my life when I find out once again, as I did over the weekend, that I've managed to vex, annoy, irk, pester, disturb, or otherwise flummox Important People who don't like that sort of thing. Think wimpled women singing about Julie Andrews' Maria Soon-to-be-von Trapp in the Abbey, I guess.


I suspect it's quite similar to a situation (though not as intentional) from a while ago which led to four (count 'em) Important People at Summer Camp - South earlier in my present sojourn to exclaim, one by one, at different times, "So! *You're* the one!"

I say again: Sigh.

Well, it's late here now (I was actually out and about doing priest-things!) and I've got to be up early. Happy Birthday, Tom! You're a gift.

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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1 comment:

Mary Coady said...

Love the blog. It's a real inspiration! Keep it coming.


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