I shared a version of the following story in my column back in 2011 and again in 2020. But, like any good story, it is worth repeating.
As I prepared to go on my annual retreat a number of years ago, I looked forward to some quality bonding with nature. I could not wait to breathe in the blue sky, green grass and various old growth trees on the Sisters of Christian Charity’s motherhouse property in New Jersey. As I checked into my room in the retreat center, to my chagrin, I discovered that my room was located in a wing of the building which faced itself. The view that I so longed for was not going to be enjoyed sitting at my window. So, what was my reaction? I complained and complained, and growled, all directed at my Beloved.
I “heard” Him chuckle at me as I prayed and complained about this issue. After several days, I “heard” Him say to me in my heart, “Are you done yet, little girl?” He ALWAYS adds “little girl” when he wants to teach me a lesson! I sheepishly said, “Yes!” He responded, “What do you see?”
So, I began a laundry list of what I actually did see. Bricks, cement, windows, window shades, lights on and off within the rooms, and the list went on and on as I rolled my eyes. Every time I complained, I was reminded, “What do you see?” This went on for three days! I often left my bedroom to pray either outside or in the chapel. Three days later, I gasped when I finally learned the lesson!
I FINALLY saw that what I craved to see was actually there on the surface of each window. You see, the reflection fully revealed the green grass, blue sky and various trees that grew on the property. It was in front of me all the time, but I couldn’t see it! I didn’t look for the deeper reality, just what was most apparent. I needed to accept the grace my Beloved was giving to me.
I could not help thinking of this story again as I continue my series on the Eucharist. In the book, Eucharist: Celebrating Its Rhythms in Our Lives, by Father Paul Bernier, SSS, we read, “Thus, an essential part of the liturgy of the word is its prophetic rhythm. God’s word should challenge us to insert ourselves more deeply into God’s own way of life — even if holy people think it’s a shame. God’s word, indeed the very Eucharist itself, is not there simply to fill us with security, but to stir us to help create the world God has wanted from the beginning of creation. It is the continuing task of disciples to be committed to the kingdom for which Jesus lived and died.”1
In other words, the Eucharist impels us to strive to change our world in such a way that it would echo the bliss of the Garden of Eden as we deepen our understanding of our dependence of God as well as our responsibilities to our neighbor. The Eucharist, well received, will redefine what is right in front of our eyes all the time so that we can live in amazement and reverence. It allows us to experience not only the “family traits” of being a Son or a Daughter of God but also how that reality should change us and change our world.
Just like the grace of seeing what I so hungered after in the reflections of the windows in the story above, the real story of the Eucharist is that of a life given for others; first Jesus’ and then ourselves. Talk about seeing something so familiar in a new way!
1 Bernier, P. Eucharist: Celebrating its rhythms in our lives. Ave Maria Press. 1993. P. 79.
By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, The Catholic Witness