Sunday, February 19, 2012

"This is Real"

The following is based on a true story.

Her life thus far, taken in the context of the all the possible kinds of lives of teenage girls, had been an easy one.

She had grown up in an affluent suburb of Southern California, gone to the finest private parochial schools, and had seldom touched real pain or loss.  Her parents were basically good people; her father a corporate attorney, and her mother an accountant turned community volunteer.  For her high school years, she had gone to a private, Catholic all girls high school on a mountain top, overlooking the green exclusive and private hillsides of her growing-up years.  Her grades were good, she had a nice group of friends, and  had been admitted at several highly ranked colleges.  She even attended mass.  Occasionally.  Everything was going along fine. 

But suddenly, in the final months of her senior year, a weekend came that would change her more than all the combined blessing of her charmed youth.  And it would happen in a place both expected, and, at the same time, entirely unanticipated.

Each year of high school, the girls would take a long weekend for a spiritual retreat, a time away from the busy rush of school, sports, and social life back home.  A two hour car ride away was a retreat center that offered a kind of separation from the rush of modern teenage life.  For many, if not most girls, this was not something particularly looked forward to; it was more of an obligation than an anticipation.  Some even counted the hours until it was over; bored by the lack of wireless connections, and the need for a "religious event".  Silence.  What could possibly happen of worth in a place that was known for its silence?

For many girls, these retreats were not given much thought.  A time away from the annoyances of family and studies, perhaps.  For others, this was merely a time to be with friends.  If the intent and setting was intended to be focused on faith, that was at best, tolerable.

And yet, in her senior year, even in the midst of this routine of routine religious practice, something happened to this girl that was surprising, transformational, and filled with joy.  Unexpected joy.  Over the course of several days, in the midst of a structure of reading, conversation with friends and leaders, from solitude and reflection, in the most unexpected ways for this girl, God became known, Jesus became present.  To even this high school senior girl with a "good life" and no apparent needs.

As the retreat weekend came to a close, this senior girl pondered the larger questions of her future away from home and off to college, and this new presence in her life.  What did this all mean?  She approached a retreat leader with these words:
"This is real.  All this conversation about God that I have heard, for all these years, that I never really thought much about.  If you take the time to think, and pray, and ask turns out, it's real!"
Real.  Over the past 32 years, since my senior year in college, this has been my experience as well.  Perhaps that is the reason my eyes filled with tears and my heart swelled when I heard this story.  And the same thing happens every time I hear a similar story of redemption and transformation.  The kind of business God is about on a daily basis.

This girl's story also made me think of the words of G. K. Chesterton in his book "Orthodoxy":

The vault above us is not deaf because the universe is an idiot; the silence is not the heartless silence of an endless and aimless world. Rather the silence around us is a small and pitiful stillness like the prompt stillness in a sick-room. We are perhaps permitted tragedy as a sort of merciful comedy: because the frantic energy of divine things would knock us down like a drunken farce. We can take our own tears more lightly than we could take the tremendous levities of the angels. So we sit perhaps in a starry chamber of silence, while the laughter of the heavens is too loud for us to hear.
Its real, my friends.  Real.

"The Message that points to Christ on the Cross seems like sheer silliness to those hellbent on destruction, but for those on the way of salvation it makes perfect sense. This is the way God works, and most powerfully as it turns out. It's written, I'll turn conventional wisdom on its head, I'll expose so-called experts as crackpots." - 1 Corinthians 1:17-18
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...