Friday, December 19, 2008

As Wrong As Wrong Can Be

Near the end of the movie The Spitfire Grill, there is a scene at the funeral of Percy Talbott, when the minister asks if anybody has anything to say. Nahum Goddard who had mistrusted Percy from the very beginning laments that although he thought he knew Percy... "but I was wrong....", he repeats the line over again "...but I was wrong", finally he laments ...I was wrong as wrong could be". I was born in a quiet New England town. That place seems so far away from me both in time and nature. It was a town interestingly enough found by a woman and settled at first by the English Puritans. In the turn of the 20th century there was a mass influx of immigrants, Irish, Italian, and later Portuguese. I am telling you this because with those newcomers from the old country came the churches. There were a great deal of Catholic churches and later schools in my little town. I was an altar boy and stayed after school to clean the backboards for the nuns. So you see Catholicism was as a great deal of my life. I grew to know and love many of the religious and priests who served in our community. In many ways I long for this idyllic life that I had growing up in the 1950's and early 60's. I would often ride my bicycle for hours investigating all the corners of the city. My bicycle was my freedom and it flew like the wind. I was the master of this new found land I had conquered, and life had many such Don Quixote moments. My parents never knew where I was, nor were worried, the fact is the did not have to. I was raised in Catholic schools and never set foot in a public school. Even with this background, life changes and it did. I fell into the same traps, went down the same empty roads, did all the same foolish things and much of it I would be very ashamed to tell you. I read all the books on nihilism, existentialism and the atheistic dribble, followed all the wrong people, lost my way and forgot about God. Of course you know now that the story changes and perhaps I will write on my conversion in the future but the real story is about this. Without the aid of any intellect of my own, in other words I did not rationally deduce these things - this point is very important to note, I realized by God's grace that I was wrong. Do you know how beautiful those words mean to me today? I was never wrong before. In my foolish mind I was the center of this cosmic universe. I was the master control. Life boiled down to pleasing me. Everything I did was for my gain, my advantage, my pleasure. I sized up every situation like a general on the battlefield to see what territory I could seize. The person I became was a sorry, sinful and selfish, rudderless, a sail without a breeze in this ocean of life. But, I was wrong. Thank God I was wrong! I cannot, possibly describe the joy that I have in my surrender to God. There is no greater joy! He is my true love. In Him I see such beauty that surpasses my imagination. I desire to kneel before Him, to praise my Lord & King. I find myself in tears at Mass, when reading scripture and spiritual writings, at moments when I can't believe myself of His incredible, awesome and bountiful love & mercy. I am a genuine fool for Christ because I was wrong as wrong could be.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As one who grew up the 50's, your journey sounds so similar.
Cradle catholic, falling away and coming back. What made us fall into such foolishness? It helps so much to hear other stories. How wonderful is coming home!