Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Haiti, Search, & St. Francis

The first few days of classes went well. I'm excited about this semester, but I already have a ton of homework! Hence, the lack of posts this past week.

The 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti was a terrible and sad event. I remember seeing it all over the headlines on the web after it occurred. At times like these, you have to wonder why such a thing could happen...especially to one of the poorest countries in the world. A country where the basic necessities are lacking for most of the population.

I learned much of what I know about Haiti and her people from reading the book, Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder. What I have come to learn over the past few days is that people can band together when times get tough. Hearts melt and merge into one giant, beating being. Generosity flows forth like you've never seen it before.

While it is a pity that large-scale relief and attention are only just now being given to Haiti because of the earthquake, I am glad and comforted by the outpouring of generosity. I am also comforted by constantly trying to live by this, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own prudence" -Proverbs 3:5

What I am most angry about, however, does not belong to the former inattention given to Haiti. My anger is directed toward the University of Tennessee football community and local media. The same day that the earthquake happened, UT's head coach resigned. All of a sudden, it was like Haiti and the earthquake never happened. People were so upset that they rioted on campus...burning t-shirts with Lane Kiffin's picture (the coach) and even mattresses! Yes! Mattresses. This is the 3rd time in only a few months where UT has made headlines for less than pleasant things.

Blegh! The next morning, the big local newspaper split the headline between Haiti and Kiffin. I couldn't believe that! The only thing of the entire sordid affair that I do understand is the betrayal that fans felt upon Kiffin's untimely departure. That was not nice of him to do. UT football is a way of life here in Tennessee, and I guess I just forgot about that. Anyway, I think my little rant is done. Let's all hope!

This past weekend was super busy for me as well. On Saturday I spent practically the entire day at a retreat called Search. See Father Christian Mathis' post here to learn more about it. The retreat, fully titled the Search for Christian Maturity, was one of the best experiences and weekends of my life. I learned so much about my faith and relationship with God. I was a "Searcher" last year.

I came back this year to help in anyway I could...the so-called college help. That consisted of cleaning up after meals and setting up anything the Search leaders (a few of them my good St. Thomas youth group friends!) needed set up. Unfortunately that was all I could do. Upon graduating, I entered the black abyss that is the age between however old you were upon graduating high school and 21. If you are in that age category, there is virtually nothing for you to do in the Diocese of Knoxville. Fortunately, there is something being done among the higher ups and Youth and Young Adult Ministry will have more available for people like me! Hooray!

Search was held at the local Catholic high school. In one of the wings, they have a bench with a statue of St. Francis of Assisi sitting in the middle. There is just enough room on either side of him to sit next to him. Father Christian and I were on "patrol" duty, so we took a side trip and hung out with St. Francis for a few minutes.

This picture of me and Francis is for all those naysayers who think that my blog and foundational St. Francis quote "Preach the Gospel at all times; if necessary, use words" are just a bunch of hullabaloo. Lately I have been invited to comment on a blog and received an email asking me to explain what I think about the quote. Basically what I have been told is that I am wrong and you can't do what the quote says. "It's impossible." Then Scripture verses were thrown at me and essentially my beliefs were belittled. Things like that aren't very nice. The funny part of the situation, in my opinion, was that these were fellow Christians behaving hypocritically. They preached openness and understanding, but they weren't very open and understanding with what I had to say. I felt very sad and hurt by what they said.

The positive from these recent events is that I have found a way to become better and not so vulnerable to approaches/attacks/situations like that. I guess in a way, that is one of my crosses that I will bear. Fortunately for me, I do not have to walk that road and carry that cross by myself. Jesus and I had a good heart to heart, and He said that He will help me.

These monsters of anger and frustration that are buried deep inside of me won't have a place to hide if I only let Christ in to banish them. I think we would all do well to let Him in.

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