At mass this morning, we had a guest celebrant. Fr. Kevin had been ordained a priest this past spring, and before that, he studied in Rome, and before that, he entered the seminary, and before that, he was a youth minister, and before that, he was a Spanish teacher, and before that, he was a college student, and before that, he was a teenager in a parish Life Teen program, and before that, he was a child, and before that, he was a wild idea of God, loved into being. Though that may be as cumbersome to read as the beginning of Matthew, it, like the Gospel, points us to an important truth: there is a plan for us. Kevin grew up in my childhood parish, and when he was a teenager, my sister was his youth minister. When he went to college and started as a youth minister himself, Kevin did so in the same place I had landed, about half an hour away from our shared hometown. My husband and I have spent two decades worshipping, doing ministry, and raising our family at that little college chapel, and our church community has seen a lot of joy and challenge over the years, but when Fr. Kevin walked in this morning, I was overwhelmed at the goodness of God. He uses our winding roads and messy lives to bring beauty and symmetry to life, and on some blessed days, He gives us a little glimpse into His handiwork. Looking backward, it can be easy to see how our paths make sense and how things fall into place, but it’s the faithfulness of our walk in the middle that is the spine to our story. Everyone wants to see how it will work out; we love the end to the movie, the resolution, but the work is in the walking. And the waiting. After all, God is not an architect working block-by-block in fixed measurements on a set timeline. He’s an artist, working with fluid lines to create something truly unforgettable.
It’s possible that there were people in Kevin’s life that suspected or predicted his call to the priesthood and his subsequent time in Rome all along, through his younger years. It’s equally possible that there were some, maybe his former high school Spanish students, who were surprised. But God is never surprised, and it occurs to me that He is doing similar work in the lives of each one of us today: weaving our winding, meandering stories into something uniquely beautiful.
My late mother would often sense things in a mix of prayer and Irish intuition and make predictions that were at times eerily accurate and at other times, hilariously wrong. She described my daughter to a tee before she was ever conceived, knew I would marry my husband the day she met him, and knew he would get a job he really wanted even when he was turned down initially (they called him back after two weeks). But she also predicted twins in the family that never came, and a few other things as well. My Mom was a character, and it was easy to dismiss her sometimes kooky ways, but I always listened, especially once she was sick. And even then, though she always had a strong, specific sense about the future paths of my children, she would only give me a loose framework about where she thought they were headed. As a mother herself, she knew well how my influence could deter as much as lead a child on the path they might go, and she didn’t want me to mess it up.
Still, I have her words in the back of my mind, and a few other inklings I’ve had along the way about my children and what they might do later in life. Like Mary, I treasure these things in my heart. But my kids’ roads are their own, and who am I to speak direction into them when I am still walking out my own winding path? God knows I’m no authority. But today I take comfort in the beauty of Fr. Kevin’s path. He was a college kid in a little chapel, and then he worked there, and then he went far from there for a long time, and today he walked through the door again to preside at mass. Who could have guessed at this turn, or who could have predicted it? Who could have written Kevin’s unique story but the God who made him? In my heart, I know that my story and the stories of my children are equally unthinkable, unpredictable, and yet so simple. He loved us into being. We were fearfully and wonderfully made, and our God is walking with us on twisting roads, bringing people and experiences into our lives, and leading us finally to where we were always meant to be. Our days are written in the best book ever, and it will make complete sense when we finally close the cover, and maybe (hopefully) even before then. He is leading us home.
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
Psalm 139: 13-16
© 2017 my little epiphanies Kerry Campbell. All rights reserved.