There is no way of telling people
that they are all walking around
shining like the sun.
This past weekend I had the joy of attending my 4th Marianist Formation Weekend. This year Sr. Laura and I gathered with all the guys in formation with the Marianist brothers & priests (aspirants, novices, and temporary professed) and some of their formation personnel for a weekend of sharing in northern California.
We had a presenter/facilitator, a Marianist brother who works in an Archdiocesan office for small Christian communities. However, that's not what was so good about this past weekend. It was the encouragement (and challenge) that comes from being with faithful (and faith-filled) people.
Thomas Merton, a now deceased Trappist monk and an incredible spiritual writer, once wrote:
My vocation does not really make me different from the rest of [the human race] or put me in a special category except artificially, juridically. I am still a member of the human race, and what more glorious destiny is there... since the Word was made flesh and became, too, a member of the Human Race! Thank God! Thank God! I am only another member of this human race, like all the rest of them. I have the immense joy of being [human], a member of a race in which God became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now that I realize what we all are. And if only everyone could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.
Have you ever been around people who just radiate the presence of God? People around whom you can not help but sense peace and joy? People who walk around "shining like the sun?"
It may seem like an exaggeration (for I'm prone to that sort of thing), but that's exactly what my weekend was like. It's slightly difficult to explain.... But, I can say this. God has blessed me with friends and people in my life who are a true gift. They incarnate the presence of God for me. And it's not just about affirmation. They challenge me... challenge me to be more faithful... to love more deeply... to live with gratitude.
Joyce Rupp, a Sister with the Servants of Mary and spiritual writer, explains it well...
I think of these faithful people often, particularly during November when I pray with gratitude for all those who have blessed me. When I gather the goodness of my life, I am especially thankful for those who have helped me to grow. Being with faithful people challenges me in my own commitment. I look to the abundance of others' love and yearn to be more generous in my own response...It is a gift to know people who are faithful, people whose inner strength urges them to share their love generously even when they pay a price to do so. Their lives tell us that faithfulness is possible, although it is rarely easy. Faithful people reflect God's faithfulness.
And so, in this season of giving thanks, I am grateful for the faithful people in my life. And for the ways in which they encourage and challenge me in my own commitment.
Many blessings to all who read this!