For some the quest to find themselves and what they are called to do, or at least find what honestly feels right, can take most of their life. A least that’s how it has felt for me. Each event in my life has slowly revealed something that continually moves me down the path to a more complete union with God.
I have had some believe, understanding of God for as long as I can remember. It’s best described as a gut feeling. Not a complete understanding by any means, just a sense of something more. As events of life occurred I could sense the nudge toward serving. It just seemed right to help. I had that sense of peace and calm.
I do have to say it took years for me to start to see the call to help, to serve and the feeling of God being one of the same. I can best describe it as walking through a forest that you have never been in and have no knowledge of what’s along the path you are following. Periodically you cross a stream. It is only after several crosses that you realize you have been crossing the same stream. Each crossing was different, but it was the same stream. For many years I saw God and helping as two good, but not as both being the same. As my family evolved and kids grew up I had more time to think about what was life about. My diaconate studies helped to focus some of my ideas and develop a deeper understanding of concepts on God and what I was being called to do. Yet, studying within the church was only providing a point of view through that set of windows. To put it in the light of walking through the forest it was a single crossing of the stream. I guess I could say my studies were beginning to strongly suggest the stream was the same, but my dualist mind was wanting proof positive. It was or it was not the same stream.
What I now see as the break through, what gave me the sight to be more able to see the whole stream, was in essence was climbing a tree. Climbing a tree changed the dualistic nature of walking one way or the other. Now I was off the path and moving in a way I had not thought of before. For me becoming involved with M.A.L.E.S now Illuman was the change. Through the various programs and gatherings I have been able to see the stream I was crossing as the same stream at every crossing. Using what I have discovered has helped to see how we are all of the same family if you will. What we see as God is our common point. Each one of us is a different crossing point of God.
In my work as a missioner I have become to see everyone as a brother and sister. Political boundaries are not as important. What is important is developing the relationship with the people. This became a clear point when at the end of a mission in Sucre, Bolivia. At the end of a mission we would celebrate our time together with the people of the barrios or neighborhood where we had been working. We would participate in local customs like dancing, sharing of food, sharing stories about ourselves, and many other things. At one point everything became quiet. Then a young man dressed in military fatigues, a toy machine gun, and a sign hanging from his neck saying “North Americans” came out of the church. He walked around the crowd giving orders and controlling the people. After walking around the crowd of people he stopped and faced the mission team. Next a young man came out of the church dressed in business casual attire. He had a sign hanging from his neck saying “Industrialist”. He also walked around the crowd taking resources and stopped next to the military man. Next a man came out of the church with a Bible and a sign around his neck saying “Fundamentalist” . He was confronting people and pounding his finger in the Bible. He was telling people they would go to hell if they didn’t believe in the same way he did. He stopped next to the other two men. Finally a young man came out of the church dressed as a priest. He was working to bring the people together. Needless to say a powerful skit.
It was here the comment was made, “You’re not like all North Americans.” In the two weeks of our mission, we were able to put aside the political and economic boundaries that tended to separate people. We were able to see each other as brothers and sisters of God. This was a climbing of the tree. Through our mens work I have grown in my understanding and ability to see God in others and to care less about where someone comes from and what they believe. Instead I am better able to see them as a work of God to teach me to be better able to see God in the world and better to appreciate God in me.