I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever. Psalm 52:8
The Lord is my shepherd and nothing is wanting to me. In green pastures He hath settled me. Psalm 23:1
If you want to change the world, go home and love your family. –Mother Teresa
So, planted it is. And one thing I learned about olive trees is that they sure don’t need much water because their roots grow down deep and wide and wrap around the bed Rock. The trunk is typically gnarled and twisted and that is okay.
So I stared One Day In Rome in the face and did the Buy tickets on the Vatican website and not stand in line thing first, and then I found one of those free walking tours that meets at ten in the morning near the Spanish Steps. And the best thing about these tours are not the expressive-with-her-hands woman who love anthropology or the wandering around with a large clump following a little colorful rag held up on a stick through the crowds, but the other sorts of people who show up for a free lecture that is a little hard to understand but at least you get some perspective.
The first people I met as we sort of hoped that the lady would show up because it was ten minutes late was Olivia from India but who grew up in Dubai. And her friend was from Palestine and had grown up in Dubai. And I laughed and said that I would never forget her name, because today I was meditating on what it meant to be an olive tree. And to trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever. And she asked about that. And actually Mary Anne ended up looking in her friend’s eyes, whose name I of course promptly forgot, and speaking of Jesus. And their embrace at the end of the two hours was profound. And Olivia is going to visit her sister in Los Angeles next year and now we are Facebook friends.
And there was Juan David from Colombia who has been traveling one out of his three months. And we talked about The Way and how each person on our travels is seeking Love and Mercy. Pope Francis has made God’s mercy an easy thing to talk about this year. And now we are Facebook friends.
And Antonio from Peru but who had grown up in fear in Miami, illegally gets his citizenship next year. And he is a music teacher and he loves middle schoolers. And of course we talked about if you love middle schoolers, you have a moral obligation to teach them because it is such a hard time in life. And his dream, once he gets his papers, is to teach in an international school, so of course I had a few words to say about that. And now we are Facebook friends.
May You be for us a moon of joy and happiness. Ethiopian Prayer
And somehow when I look up at the moon I always think about the moon shining down and man looking up all over the world. And that makes sense, because people seldom squint up into the sun, but we all look up at the moon and wonder.
And I think about my green pastures in which I am settled. The green pastures of His Love is Sufficient.
And one version of Francis’ prayer before the Cross of San Damiano asks for wisdom and perspective in order to do truly His holy will. And I have been praying that a lot these days, especially the Most Highest and Glorious God.
And Fred from Germany messaged me this week. And he is thinking about traveling around Latin America next semester with Alex from Young Life and what did I think, was that running away from his problems? And I told him, No way. That is seeking perspective. And wisdom.
And perspective has a lot to do with seeing with right faith, firm hope and perfect charity. In profound humility. And Ann Verkamp talks about guarding our heart from the Accuser, Maybe the most important part of your body to control is your index finger — because it’s most like the devil: It most wants to point and prosecute. It needs more people to honestly point out their own sins — and humbly point up to everyone’s Savior.
The humility thing. Marco reminded me that an instrument of peace lies in the hands of the Master Musician. At rest.
Matteo told me about this ninety-five-old-lady who shares her wisdom and perspective in stories. And one of her stories is about when she asked about a difficult person in her life. And Mother Teresa replied, “Love her even more.”
Perfect love casts out fear.
And the thing about Assisi is that I think that entire countryside is planted with joy. Deep-seeded joy from centuries of brown-frocked fearless love.
Chesteron said that “St. Francis is the mirror of Christ rather as the moon is the mirror of the sun. The moon is much smaller than the sun, but it is also much nearer to us; and being less vivid it is more visible.“
May You be for us a moon of joy and happiness.
So I have wrapped my wrist with a Franciscan cross as a reminder of the shining light of a moon. Of a prayer to The Most Highest. Double superlatives. And I have asked for His Sacred Heart. His heart of love that pursues. Even to the cross. Lifted up, not for condemnation, but that the world, through Him, might be saved.
And as he lay dying, Francis declared, one last time echoing the words of His Lord: And If you would go anywhere or make any pilgrimage, return always to your home; for this is the holy house of God.
What is a pilgrimage? asked Juan David.
A journey that starts from your front door.
And beloved Sam Gamgee, and he went on, and there was yellow light, and fire within; and the evening meal was ready, and he was expected. He drew a deep breath. ‘Well, I’m back,’ he said.
The “chicken or pasta” lunch has been selected. The honey and ginger ice cream from Buckinghamshire has been devoured with the tiny plastic spoon hidden in the lid. The red wine in a plastic cup has been drunk. And the table cleared of all except one last bottle of natural water.
A green olive tree planted.
World changer, one love at a time.
Jesus also promised her: Know this, My daughter, that by the charity of My Heart I desire to pour out floods of graces through your heart over the hearts of others. This is why people will come to you with confidence; it will not be your personal qualities which will attract them, but Me. No one, even the most hardened sinner, will leave your presence without having received, in one way or another, consolation, relief, or a special grace.
And the oft-repeated question in the Spielberg/Hanks movie Bridge of Spies that we watched as we flew over the swaying Atlantic Ocean on the way back to Newark and Denver and home was, “Aren’t you worried?”
And the quiet Russian spy always answered, Would it help?
Ann ends with this prayer: In the midst of everything: Trust that Grace will always meet you.