Consecrated to the Heart of the Redeemer under the patronage of the Theotokos and Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

15 May 2014

Be Attentive

One of my parishioners recently told me that she needs to listen to her heart more than to her head, as she has found her head to be unreliable and unclear. For various reasons I have preferred my head, though I have often experienced a similar result.

Yesterday I found myself in the hospital intending to visit parishioners. The only thing was, I didn't have a list of who was in the hospital because, when I called for names, nobody knew how to operate the system and therefore couldn't tell me anything. Since I was driving near one hospital I thought I'd stop in and see whether I could recognize anyone by name or face. (I've been at this parish long enough to be able to do that by now – at least parishioners I see regularly, either in church or in the hospital.) You can say that I went in not knowing whom I was supposed to be visiting. For that reason I traversed the corridors with a greater sense of observation than usual, which prompted me to notice and greet hospital staff members. I did see one woman whose name looked familiar. Although it turned out she was not a parishioner, she was from another parish and was the mother of a man whom I knew well. Later I found out that she hadn't been visited by a priest for a couple of days, so she was glad to see me.

As I headed toward the lobby ready to leave, it occurred to me: did I forget to walk through that one section? I had an appointment coming up, so (thought I to myself) I'd better get going. But wouldn't it be my luck if I found out a parishioner was on that unit and I never saw him! I guess you could say I listened to my heart, because I decided to go back up to the section I thought I hadn't checked.

As a result of that decision, I got to visit a relative of one of our deceased priests of happy memory. I shared fond memories of our acquaintance, dating back to when I was first ordained and would see him along my travels and at priest gatherings.

Then, as I passed another room, the occupant had her back to me (she was seated in a wheelchair) but her visitor noticed me. I wondered whether she might be a parishioner because I thought I recognized her name, but it turns out she wasn't. Her visitor, however, began to tell me that she was intrigued by my beard. She figured I was Catholic, but wondered for a moment whether I was an Orthodox Jew. I assured her that I was not, adding that others have mistaken me for an Amish person, or perhaps an Orthodox Christian. (And to think that I trimmed the beard a couple of weeks ago!)

There was nothing profoundly spiritual about the beard comments, but the rest of the story has spiritual ramifications: I came into a situation with a certain openness, and, I believe, was rewarded with experiences I might have missed had I been in a different frame of soul. Now I don't claim to be any sort of spiritual master, especially as my spiritual condition fluctuates throughout the course of any given day; but there is something to following your heart and leading with it.

1 comment:

  1. Bearded Priests, the phalanx of the New Evangelization!