The Velveteen Cabinet

With a bunch of younger kids there were things we didn't bother fixing. Particularly after the second or third time. Door knobs. Cabinet hinges. Chairs. Each new blemish or brokenness met with resignation. Sometimes an expletive. Worn carpet. Chipped paint. Wall stains.

Now, as they're getting older, as that first newborn I held so many years ago is a beautiful, young woman on the verge of leaving the nest... these no longer beg repair. They charm me. Haunt me. Like old family photos. Memories of our life together. Creaky floors and steps. The passage of time. They indelibly mark a kind of ongoing christening. What was once just a house has become a home. Is becoming a home.

All this moving me to wonder just now. Looking at our kitchen cabinets. Wondering if what I might have once regarded as something worn, to be fixed, masked, isn't more truly, something real. Unmasked. Genuine. And in the contrast, I'm amazed by awareness not of how these have changed, but how I have changed. From merely tolerating things being worn, to revering them as something real.

And I wonder. In our ever-accumulating blemishes and brokenness, is this what God sees of us? Worn of our paint. A bit off our hinges. Frayed at the edges. Does He rush in to fix them, or do these move His heart? Does He see each and every unique mark and deeply treasure them... love them... love us?

And I wonder If all this isn't, in fact, our Christening... our becoming more like Christ. The real "home" making. Preparing us for our eternal home here on earth, as it is in heaven.

Today, as you encounter the same old blemishes and brokenness, consider that perhaps your healing and repair and restoration is precisely in recognizing Jesus Christ, whose healing hands are still marked by all of this. By us. And that all this is not simply endured by God, but celebrated... in the breaking of the bread. At every Mass.

Are You An Amusing Catholic?

It was Dominic’s inaugural ride at Cedar Point. As the Millennium Force clicked it’s way up, higher and higher, scenes of his 9 years of life must have been flashing before his eyes. Just before the dramatic descent, all surrounding counties surely heard a little boy shouting from the top of his lungs, “Oh, my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee…”

Amusement parks. If a muse is to reflect deeply, a-musement is the opposite, to deliberately not reflect deeply. And so it is with an amusement park. It’s about diversion. The thrill. Made possible by dramatic turns. Ups and downs. Keeping your lunch down. Trying not to blackout. Wondering what your obit will say. Then, on to the next ride.

Young people epitomize a-musement, particularly when the park is empty. They repeat their favorite rides ad nauseum. Without the nuisance of having to stand in line. Without having to connect with people. Without musing. Thrill after thrill.

For most of us older folks, we’ve been there, done that. We’re like BB King. “The thrill is gone.” After the Maverick I was done. I would have preferred waterboarding. The antique cars looked menacing. We older people are grateful just to be with the company of our families. We’re about people. Connecting. Attending to needs. Observing. And dare I say, musement.  

Good thing there was no musement detector. I would have been kicked out. I found myself musing.  Are our ordinary lives any different? Are we not addicted to the next thrill? Are we not wired for the next movie. Or TV program. Or video game. Or special event. Or thing to buy. Or gossip.  No worries if none of these satiate the thrill-addicted beast within, it’s world has evolved to personally equip us with an unending buffet... through our divisive, er, device.

Always pining for the next ride, at what point do we awaken to realize we’re being ridden?

If the Three Persons of God are our design, our greatest fulfillment only found through genuine intimacy, through mutual, self-giving love, a-musement wiring is truly treacherous. Epidemic. It’s our greatest threat today. It keeps us away from our humanity. It keeps us confined to our prison walls. Cut off. Empty. Hungry. Alone. At a distance from who we, and others, fundamentally are. From intimate communion with God.

For those of us bold enough to take an honest look in the mirror, are we “faithful Catholics” not infected by a kind of a-musement park spirituality? Going from one thrill to the next?

Perhaps our rides go by names of CRHP, TEC, ACTS, Cursillo, IGNITE, FUS or Lift Jesus Higher. Perhaps our lengthier stage shows go by names of Knights of Columbus, or the Ladies Altar Society, or That Man is You or Endow. Perhaps a number of us are even into a-musment park design and engineering. We’re entertained by Forming Intentional Disciples, or Divine Renovation, or Evangelical Catholicism.

One, big question: What real, lasting, concrete difference have these made?

Have our concepts and convictions translated into concrete commitments? In particular, are we any more engaged as disciples of Jesus Christ in the heart of our marriages, families and homes? Beyond what we profess, what do our calendars pronounce about what is truly most important to us? How much time last week did you spend talking and praying as a family in your home?

Don’t get me wrong. I know the Holy Spirit is powerfully present in each of these opportunities. In fact, that’s precisely the point. Has His power empowered us, or merely entertained us?  If the concepts and convictions don’t translate into real, concrete commitments, beyond the comfy bounds of the particular group, and into our world where it matters, we’re partaking of them like kids rounding their favorite ride, going round and round, up and down, but getting no further than where we started.

Over time, we know what happens. We’ve seen it happen. We’ll not only become inoculated against God’s real power, but we’ll be depriving this starving world of authentic witness to the truly life-transforming power of Jesus Christ through His Church.

The impact God desires to make around us depends upon our embracing His Power alive within us. We invite you to accept the Live IT Challenge. It is the heart of the Church answer to “And then what.” There’s no expiration cycle. Free admission. No lines. No motion sickness. It’s all about our living the great, eternal adventure of life in Jesus Christ. Go now and don’t simply check it out, but commit to Living IT: