“There is no need to search; achievement leads to nowhere. It makes no difference at all, so just be happy now! Love is the only reality of the world, because it is all One, you see. And the only laws are paradox, humor and change. There is no problem, never was, and never will be. Release your struggle, let go of your mind, throw away your concerns, and relax into the world. No need to resist life, just do your best. Open your eyes and see that you are far more than you imagine. You are the world, you are the universe; you are yourself and everyone else, too! It’s all the marvelous Play of God. Wake up, regain your humor. Don’t worry, just be happy. You are already free!”
i have always struggled finding a church community that i’ve been able to relate to and become a part of. my family has gone to a number of catholic churches but i’ve had such a hard time really seeing Jesus at the heart of the Catholic masses. the traditions and decorations and social teachings have really just taken away from the experience of mass which is supposed to be an experience of God.
anywhere near a metro station around washington, dc, you’ll find men and women selling Street Sense,” which offers “economic opportunities for people experiencing homelessness in our community through a newspaper that elevates voices and encourages debate on poverty and injustice.” anyway, there’s this man Tyrone who sells street sense outside the metro stop nearest to my house. every time i see him, he’s wearing a baseball cap that says “Jesus” and has a heart. and, every time, he smiles at me with a smile big enough to portray His heart and says, “you know you’re always in my prayers.”
and it’s not just me. he has this encounter with every single person who walks by him. he is truly living God’s love in the purest way. so one day i decided, this is a man who is worth getting to know. so i stopped. and we talked for probably an hour. by the end of the conversation, he had spoken the most beautiful words about the love of God, about his childhood, about his embracing church community. i asked which church he attended and he told me it was the one right there, only a few blocks from my house. he invited me to come that coming sunday.
and i did. when i walked in for the five o’clock service, tyrone’s eyes lit up and he greeted me with the greatest bear hug. then, i joined the community on their lenten series entitled “the road to Emmaus,” in which we look into the old testament in a different way than i ever had. we looked not for teachings on how to live our lives, or anything focused on us, for that matter. rather, we looked at what it really says about Jesus. and not just a foreshadowing of his coming—what does it really say about who Jesus is?
following the service, almost everyone in the congregation came up to me and welcomed me. i went out to dinner with a couple of the girls there who attend college in the area. they were so cool and in touch with their faith. because of the welcoming atmosphere and the loving message that was being preached, i knew i had to come back.
and i did. today, for the palm sunday service, continuing on the road to Emmaus. and everyone there remembered my name and who i was. for the first time, i feel like i really belong in a faith community, outside of my school. i really see God working through these people at Restoration Church. i am so thankful that Tyrone was able to lead me to them!
Tomorrow, I have a paper due regarding the community service I have completed throughout my high school years. In my paper, I reflected on one experience in particular—my work in Camden, NJ. If you would like to read it over and give me feedback, that would be absolutely amazing. (:
Although I don’t consider myself Catholic, but rather spiritual—a combination of many different faiths— I do like to do something for Lent. So for these forty days, I will write a post on this blog (fortydaysoflove) every day—sometimes every other day— reflecting on Love that I either see or show in my daily life, or just a reflection on a certain aspect of my spirituality.
open your eyes and observe everything. open your ears and listen to everyone. at night, listen to the silence. open your heart and leave it open. open your mind and think. then open your mouth and say what you will. - EJM.