Jesus the Healer

YoMB - Week 7 - Jesus the Healer

A year ago, I had the great privilege of working on a retreat project for the upcoming World Youth Day in Poland. The best part of the project was the chance to collaborate with two amazing writers and colleagues – Mike Hayes and Becky Eldredge.  Together, we explored various aspects of the theme “Blessed Are the Merciful”, inspired by the writings and witness of Pope Francis. During this Year of Mercy, Becky has dedicated her blog to continuing this theme, alongside the hashtag #MercyMatters.  I am grateful for Becky’s invitation to submit an occasional guest post. This week, I offer a reflection on mercy through the eyes of Jesus the Healer.

Mercy Matters: Jesus the Healer

Do not underestimate the extent to which you’ve been hurt.

We live in a broken world. We all carry a certain amount of physical, emotional, or spiritual wounds. Other people unwittingly project their brokenness onto us. We in turn, often unknowingly, although sometimes intentionally, take out our pain on others.

How often do we brush off people’s offers of assistance and diminish our need for help. “It’s not that bad. I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.”

Continue reading …. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Too Busy for a Vocation

erma-bombeckI don’t like the phrase “life is busy”.  It is too easy to use “being busy” as an excuse or to justify our self-importance in our over-programmed lives. When I’m tempted to say I’m busy, I often instead say “life is full” – which is a way of acknowledging that life is really good, there is an abundance of work and other activities occupying my time, and that there is always enough time to be present to the person standing in front of me, even when there does not seem to be enough hours in the day to do everything else.

Well, I have to say, between my new job (it’s been almost a year, but still feels very new!) and a very full travel schedule – life is busy!  Actually, life is too busy, and some important things are getting away from me.

A few weeks ago, media guy “Zach” contacted me and asked if I’d be willing to do an interview for his radio program.  I said yes, we played email tag, I added the date to my calendar, and I put it out of my mind.

As a side note, I need to admit something:  I’m an introvert and a writer. Radio interviews – where I am forced to spontaneously respond to questions out loud while being recorded – are not my favorite.  There are no do-overs on live radio!  But I generally say yes, because it’s an important vehicle to sharing the single life journey, and because it’s a good exercise in humility.

Screenshot_2016-02-07-18-56-31In my busyness, I failed to ask Zach some pertinent questions – like who are you? And who is this for?  And who exactly will be doing the interview?  The morning of the radio interview, I pulled out my standard set of “interview notes” and prepared to talk about the single life and Party of One.  All in all, everything went fine, and I went about my “busy” day.

Much to my surprise, two days later, my photo showed up on the Twitter feed of America Magazine!  Is there an emoticon for embarrassment?  How did I get all the way through this interview without realizing I was talking with the editor of one of my favorite Catholic magazines!

You can listen to the podcast here and tell me what you think!

I share this story in light of today’s scripture readings – two wonderful stories about being called.  I’m grateful for a church community that understands, appreciates, acknowledges and welcomes those called to the single life.  Our pastor specifically mentioned the call to the single life in his homily this morning, and he preached about how “we never know how our vocation impacts others.” I certainly hope, that despite my busyness and distractedness, that this little podcast can make a difference for someone who is looking to be encouraged in their pursuit of the single life vocation!

Perhaps I can offer two other quick lessons for me in all of this, too:

Am I too busy to recognize the call?  Sometimes we’re like Peter in the boat. We work really hard and we think we know where all the fish are located – but catch nothing.  Jesus comes along and says, let me show you a different way, drop your net on the other side. The single life for me has been like “fishing in deep water” – it is an adventure in trust, patiently listening to Jesus’ call, and letting him show me where to drop my nets. We’ll never hear the call if we’re too busy. Fishermen are some of the most patient people I know!  Likewise, busyness or being in a hurry does not make for good fishing.  Knowing our vocation in life takes patient listening, prayer, and trust in God.  Ultimately, you will know your vocation is right because of the fruit (or abundance of fish!) that it bears.

Second, God uses all that we have to offer, even our weaknesses.  As I mentioned above, radio interviews can be a real source of humility for me.  I often find myself second guessing: Did I say the right thing? Maybe I should have said that differently? Why did I tell that silly story? Yet, I know that despite my shortcomings, God can use this for something good (Rom 8:28) and my weakness can be a source of strength (2 Cor 12:9).

Today, Isaiah says, “I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips.”  And Peter pronounces at the feet of Jesus, “Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinful man.”  None of us is perfect, but God takes us as we are.  Peter went so far as to deny Jesus, and yet Jesus never withdrew his offer for Peter to be one of his disciples.

The same is true in our own vocation story, whether we choose the married life, single life, or religious life. Sooner or later, we’re going to mess up! Yet somehow, in God’s infinite mercy and compassion and creativity, I know that God is still at work in my life. God uses moments of weakness to teach us to trust in him. God uses our inadequacy to lift up other people’s gifts. God draws close to us even when we sin in order to show us forgiveness. There is no limit to the ways God can use our gifts, talents, strengths, and passions – and yes, even our weaknesses.

May today be a good day to recognize God’s call and recommit ourselves to our chosen vocation!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

In Memory of Joe Palmisano, SJ

joeyA Jesuit friend assured me that they only invite the most wise and experienced spiritual directors to serve on the 30-day retreat.  I’d had some not-so-great directors on shorter retreats, so my biggest concern about completing the Spiritual Exercises was whether or not I’d have a good spiritual director. If you have to maintain sacred silence for 30 days, at the very least, I wanted someone good!

One of the first people I met at Eastern Point Retreat House was Fr. Joe Palmisano, SJ, who was assigned to be my spiritual director. I soon learned that he was only 36 years old, he had been ordained maybe 3 years, and this was only his second time directing the Spiritual Exercises. This could not possibly bode well for my retreat!

But Joey had this bright smile and a way of putting people at ease. We quickly discovered that we had many things in common. Most significantly, we shared a connection with the people of Nicaragua. Joe had traveled there on a service trip during college, and as a campus minister I had taken many students on mission to Nicaragua. We both enjoyed simple things like fresh flowers and saltwater taffy. And Joe had a brain tumor. It was an unlikely connection, but my spiritual director back home had a son, Michael, who was struggling with the same thing.

Joseph Palmisano, SJ, died last week on Christmas Day at age 41. He was first diagnosed in 2008, and when I met him in summer 2011, he was in relatively good health. I knew that his condition had worsened in recent years, and he eventually moved to the Jesuit infirmary at Campion Center, in Weston, Mass. Our last email exchange was nearly a year ago.

The past few days have been a flood of memories.  I spent last night reading through my journal from the 30-day retreat, hoping to catch another glimpse of Joe. I am all at once sad, and grateful, and …. laughing! Even as I type this, I keep spontaneously spelling out the word J-O-Y instead of J-O-E.

Joey proved to be wise beyond years, compassionate, kind, an attentive listener, and very funny.  I could not have asked for a better director! While I’m sure there are many people who knew Joe much better than I ever will, I am grateful for the 30 days we spent together on the shores of Eastern Point.

As I read through my journal last night, what I actually discovered is that I wrote a lot about JESUS.  Encounters with Jesus in prayer, stories about Jesus in scripture, long walks with Jesus along the ocean, and encouragement from Joe to keep spending time with the Lord!

Without a doubt, Joe would insist on giving God all the credit for my experiences on retreat – and rightly so.  It is God who forgives. It is God who heals. It is God who transforms our hearts and brings new life.

However, in all my years of being on retreat, I’ve learned that a good spiritual director can make all the difference in revealing God’s presence.

Joey introduced me to authors and poems and saints who I still treasure – Mario Benedetti, Edith Stein, James Alison, T.S. Eliot, a reflection from Gertrude the Great, The Complete Psalms by Pamela Greenberg, and most profoundly, the writings of Walter Ciszek, SJ and St. Claude La Colombiere.

mary-icon-bulgaria

In our last email exchange, I sent Joe a picture of this Mary and Jesus icon that I purchased on vacation.  His reply, “OMG!!! She is beautiful!!!”

Joey held Pedro Arrupe as his patron saint for healing, and he had a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother.  In our prayer space on retreat, he had an icon of Mary, and every week he would bring her fresh flowers. He especially loved orchids. Joe presided at Mass one day – I think it was the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel – and he brought out all this gold fabric to decorate the altar.  I teased him about it later and he simply said, “Only the best for Our Lady!”  The year following retreat, I emailed Joe and asked for his prayers as I was leaving on another mission to trip to Nicaragua. He sent me a short note along with a photo – an icon of Mary next to an orchid plant.

There are so many conversations with Joe that I will treasure – stories that are much too personal to share or simply too difficult to put into words. I remember his patience with me when the graces of the retreat were slow to unfold. He delighted in the ways God revealed himself to each individual retreatant, especially in ways that took us both by surprise! One day, after a particularly difficult experience of reconciliation, Joey laid his hands on my head and prayed over me. It still brings me to tears.

We all need witnesses. We need mentors and guides. We need trustworthy companions to hear our stories and help us make sense of life.  I am so grateful to have Joey as a witness to the tremendous work that God was doing during that time.

Joey also stuttered. I usually forget that he stuttered, because after a while I hardly noticed. It is one of those qualities I truly appreciated about him. His speech impediment had a way of drawing people in. It forced me to slow down and pay attention to the present moment. It reminded me that we are all fragile, limited, imperfect human beings in need of God’s care.  And God uses all of what we have to offer – even our brokenness.

On the last day of the retreat, I asked Joe about what is real.  Are these mountain top experiences (like retreat) real or simply a figment of our imagination?  And how do you know that the Spiritual Exercises actually work?

He assured me that the spiritual life is real! Our experiences of God in prayer are real. Love and mercy and grace and forgiveness are real. And then he shared, quite personally (in details that I won’t reveal), of the ways he saw the graces of the Spiritual Exercises unfold in his own life.

The graces of the long retreat make us free and unafraid to be the man, the woman, the priest, the minister, the friend, the son or daughter, brother or sister whom God wants us to be. It was this heartfelt knowledge of God’s love that made Joey a friend to many and a most authentic soul in the world – even in the midst of a serious illness.

I am grateful to have met him when I did. When I count the spiritual mentors in my life – my spiritual director here in Chicago, the women in my prayer group, lay men and women with whom I have served, my best friends, and numerous priests who I have known as colleagues or confessors – Joe Palmisano will always be included in the litany of saints who have graced my life and brought me closer to God.

Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord
And let perpetual light shine upon him
May his soul and the souls of all the faithfully departed
Rest in peace.
Amen.

Peace and Love,

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Let Advent Rise

Adventt12Every once in a while, the ordinary ritual that we depend upon for our daily prayer takes on extraordinary power. Sometimes it happens because of the circumstances of life that bring us to Church that day. Other times by the mysterious mingling of prayer and preaching, scripture and song, sacramental grace, and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

I didn’t have any meetings on my calendar on Tuesday morning, so I decided to spend some extra time at Church. St. Ben’s is never as quiet as I would like, and I began to second guess my decision to stay for Mass, as a band of teenagers started strolling into church.

Without hesitation, someone sat down at the piano, and began plucking away at the keys. At the same time, a young woman confidently approached the microphone and waited for her cue.  And then this VOICE began streaming through the sanctuary.

Let praises rise – from the inside – from the inside of me

May you delight – in the inside – in the inside of me

Come fill my life – from the inside – from the inside of me

Set me on fire – from the inside – from the inside of me

As I listened to them rehearse, my mood relaxed, and I knew something special was about to happen. This all-school liturgy was not ordinary daily Mass.

+++++++++++++++++

I suppose to truly understand the power of Tuesday’s prayer, you have to understand what’s happening in our city.

The violence that rocks our city breaks my heart. I moved to Chicago 20-years ago to spend a year as a volunteer, teaching in some of these same neighborhoods.  There is so much that has NOT changed in my time here. Gang violence and gun violence has taken more lives again this year. Stories of a police cover up only add insult to injury. Amid peaceful protests, the chief of police was let go, and there are some who are calling for the resignation of key city leaders.  It’s kind of a mess.

You also have to understand that it’s Advent.

I love these weeks of patiently waiting and closely watching for the coming of Christ. This year though, I have no patience for platitudes. I’m angry, and I want JUSTICE. Perhaps I fall into the same trap as the ancient people – I want a Savior!  I want someone who is going to interrupt the system, rid the city of corruption, implement better gun control laws, and lead us toward racial equality once and for all.

And yet, Advent (and Christmas) reminds us that Justice entered the world as a child – small and vulnerable, poor, a refugee.  We are confronted each year by this radical juxtaposition – that the king of kings, the prince of peace – comes to us as an infant.

In the midst of a hurting world, in these early days of Advent, we read the classic Advent text – Isaiah’s vision of unpredictable peace where enemies become friends. This is the text we heard on Tuesday morning:

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
The calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them. 

A certain rule of thumb says that a good homily will comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. As one who is generally far too comfortable, I don’t mind the occasional spiritual challenge. In my mind, the best preaching usually includes a moment where I squirm in my seat and think to myself, “Is he really going to go there in his homily?”  (Indeed, he went there!)

Fr. Jason stopped short of saying their names, but everyone in Chicago knows the story of the 9-year old little boy who was executed in an alley at 80th and Damen – Tyshawn Lee. A story that hits even closer to home when you know the Damen Avenue bus stops four blocks from our church – take the Damen bus 120 blocks south and you’re there.

And he was not asking a rhetorical question when he reminded everyone that our city continues to mourn the death of 17-year old Laquan McDonald, and then asked, “How many times was he shot?” The murmur of teenage voices across the church repeating the refrain “16 times”.  The details are not lost on anyone; certainly not on our young people.

I cannot underestimate the power of these two tragedies in our city placed alongside the scripture proclaimed that day, and the power of preaching that brought them to light.

Claiming a line from the Gospel reading, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see!” (Luke 10:23) What do you see?  All we see is tragedy, and yet the prophet Isaiah tells us that faith can transform our vision.  We must look at the world with brutal honesty, but at the same time, we must believe there is a better way to respond.  We cannot deny the violence that is right here in front of our eyes; but we also hold tight to faith – and that faith has the power to transform even the greatest tragedy, death itself, into people who act for justice. Faith compels us to see the unthinkable, and still love one another more.

+++++++++++++++++

It would have been enough to stop there.  So much had already been said, in both the scripture and the prophetic challenge to live out our faith in daily life.  But the beauty, and power, of our Catholic ritual is that it does not stop with the Word.  We are a Eucharistic people.

In bread and wine, we know that Christ Jesus is really truly present.  And in receiving him, we become what we receive.  We become Christ – people of peace, bearers of justice, compassion, and mercy.

Eucharist is about what’s on the inside.  It changes us – from the inside.

During Communion, the choir sang that song I had stumbled into when I was looking for a quiet place to pray half an hour ago. (I later found this rendition online, which captures the spirit of how our high school students lifted their voices in song.)

Let praises rise – from the inside – from the inside of me

May you delight – in the inside – in the inside of me

Come fill my life – from the inside – from the inside of me

Set me on fire – from the inside – from the inside of me

‘Cause all I want – Is for you – For you to be glorified

For you to be lifted high

All I want – Is for you – For you to be glorified

For you to be lifted high

And I thought to myself … this is Advent.

Peace is only going to rise up in our city if it comes – from the inside.
What will we fill ourselves with this Advent?

God, the one who knows our hearts, delights on what’s on the inside.
How will God delight in us this Advent?

We are set on fire to become a light for the world. What sets us apart from those who would choose violence, and hatred, and revenge, and racism?

Isn’t this what Advent is all about?
As we await his coming, in a world in which he has already been born.

God chose to enter into the world 2,000 years ago – into an occupied country, amidst fear and violence – because he knew how desperately the world needed to see him!

And today, God chooses to be born again into a world divided, a city in mourning, amidst fear and violence – because he knows how desperately the world needs to see him. And God needs us!  God needs us to be his presence in the world today.  Blessed are the eyes who will see us and see Christ!

There is so much that is NOT RIGHT with our world and in our city.

For one moment, at the beginning of Advent, it was so clear to me – change begins on the inside.  Love is born – on the inside.  Peace begins – on the inside.  Mercy is expressed – first on the inside.

I am so grateful to know this at the start of Advent – that somehow in the midst of all this anger and injustice and violence in our city – God is at work, on the inside.

Something new is waiting to be born – inside of me.  (And I believe, inside of you, also.)  Something that will take root, and take action, when the time is ripe.  A renewed sense of peace, and love, and mercy, and justice.

This is the gift of Advent. This is the hope I long for. This is the faith that transforms us.  This is the power of faith that ultimately will transform our city and the world.

Our praise adds nothing to your greatness, God,
But when this “something new” comes to life,
I want only for you to be glorified, for you to be lifted high.
AMDG

 

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Playing Small Doesn’t Serve Anyone

Change the World - ChristinaNoelI was at an event last week, and I met a woman who looked incredibly familiar. We gave each other that knowing glance and simultaneously asked, “How do I know you?” It quickly became obvious that we share many acquaintances in common – for such a big city, the Catholic community in Chicago is a very small world! We have a number of similar interests, and as we played the name game, we naturally began talking about our careers.

I asked what kind of work she did, and there was a long pause followed by a deep sigh. It would be an understatement to say that she is not pleased with her current employer. We made light of challenging work situations, until she finally asked about me. And what do you do?  I laughed.

Typically in these types of settings, where networking opportunities are at a premium, I try to paint my situation in the best possible light. I usually say that I’m in transition between full-time jobs. I talk about freelance writing projects, working from home, and pursuing new full-time opportunities.

Until this point in the evening, it had been such a casual and candid conversation. So, I simply said, “Well, I’m actually unemployed!”  We both laughed!

Upon overhearing all of this self-deprecating banter, a mutual friend inserted herself into the conversation. “Hold on just a minute ladies! Let’s try this again. You two obviously don’t know each other very well!” She then proceeded to re-introduce us to one another.

She began, “First, I’d like to introduce my friend Beth, a two time author, who holds a M.Div. from Catholic Theological Union, and who is an amazing young adult minister. Second, I’d like to introduce my other friend, an inspiring individual who cares deeply about education, international development, and is the founder of her own non-profit organization.”

Wow!! If there was ever a moment where two women were caught in the act of selling themselves short, this was it!  If our mutual friend had not stepped into the conversation, I would have gone home early only knowing one more Millennial who is frustrated with her 9-to-5 office job. And she would have left only knowing me as one more Gen X-er in search of full-time work.

I used to keep a clip from Marianne Williamson’s book “A Return to Love” posted above my desk. I need this reminder, sometimes multiple times a day!

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?”

Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

A while back, one of my best friends shared this article about how we introduce our friends at parties.  The author says it perfectly, “Introducing your friends for who they are rather than focusing on what they do will remind them they are loved before and beyond their titles. It’s an easy way to remind them that you see them for their hearts instead of their accomplishments.”

It’s hard to carry on a conversation without talking about the things that keep us busy for most of our waking hours! How do you introduce yourself without referencing your resume for talking points?  Several years ago I went away on a weekend retreat because I needed a couple of days of prayer with an intentional community of faith.  I was not going there looking to make friends or find a date or network over similar career paths. As a matter of fact, I made a point of not talking about my job or introducing myself by my role at work.

When people asked, “Where are you from?” I mentioned where I lived, how long I’ve been there, and why I loved my neighborhood. When people asked, “What do you do?” I told them about how much time I spend in my garden, my volunteer commitments, the ways I spoil my nieces and nephews, and my role on the condo association board.

I’m pretty sure it drove some people crazy! One person finally asked me point blank, “What kind of work do you do?” Sensing their frustration with my vague answers, I simply said, “I work really hard five days a week, and I’d rather spend my weekends not talking about my job.”

It takes a certain confidence to be the kind of person who always has something interesting to talk about. I can think of one friend in particular who does impeccable work, at a prestigious organization, and works with influential people every day. But she rarely talks about her job.

In addition to the work she gets paid to do – she is also an athlete, she travels, she loves the theatre, she belongs to a book club, she’s involved with her church, and many other things. There is always something else to talk about!

Isn’t it time that we start defining ourselves by our passions …. by the things that give us life and bring us joy … and not just the activities that help us pay the rent?  I was grateful to be reminded of this again last week.

I need to be more conscious of how I introduce myself, how I refer to my friends, and to keep a handful of questions in my back pocket that open up the conversation beyond the daily grind.  Playing small doesn’t serve anyone.

(Photo by Christina Noel photography)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

By Waiting and By Calm

magnolia2

 

I generally like to think that I’m a patient person. Lately, however, all of this waiting is really trying my patience!  Throughout this period of transition, there has always been something to keep me busy – writing assignments, part-time work, Spanish classes, job searches, preparing reflections for my prayer group, networking dates, trying new recipes, hanging out with friends. One of the keys to staying hopeful is simply having something to look forward to each day!

Last week, for the first time in almost 10 months, I finally hit that moment where I just wanted to bang my head against the wall and shake my fist in exasperation.  I am so done with the waiting game!

The most recent round of waiting has gone something like this:

I found this amazing job posting!  I spent the weekend polishing my cover letter … I applied for the job … I had two really great phone conversations … Wait … First interview … Wait … Wait … Second interview! … Wait … We’d like to check your references!! … Wait … Waiting some more … Still waiting … (ugh).

I’ve been assured that this is normal, and coming from the business world, I really appreciate their thoroughness!  The time line has also been interrupted by Holy Week schedules and Spring Break holidays.  (I appreciate that, too.)  Luckily, each step along the way has been met with positive feedback and hopeful signs.  But by now, I feel like a five year old waiting for Christmas, especially since I can see the presents sitting right there under the tree in front of me!

I have to admit though, this most recent round of waiting feels different than the waiting I was doing … say, six months ago.  Perhaps I’m more prone to growing impatient now, because there is a very clear end in sight.

It is much more difficult to wait for something ambiguous and unknown.  Spiritual writer, Henri Nouwen, reminds us that waiting is an active, not passive, activity.  Part of the spiritual discipline is to remember that something is happening in the stillness.  Nouwen writes:

People who wait have received a promise that allows them to wait. They have received something that is at work in them, like a seed that has started to grow. This is very important.  We can only really wait if what we are waiting for has already begun in us. So waiting is never a movement from nothing to something. It is always a movement from something to something more.

From time to time, I pull out my bucket list.  I’ve also gone back to that wishful thinking exercise that I used with our students, “If you could take a semester off, how would you spend your time?” This weekend, I think I’ll embark on my list of Cheap Things To Do In Chicago.  I keep telling myself that there is still time – to spend a day at the museum, to dive into a home improvement project, to go for a long walk along the lake.  Time is a gift, so how can I use it well?

Assuming this job offer comes through, my life is about to get extremely busy!  I keep reminding myself that a year from now, I’m going to wish that I had a little more down time, a little more flexibility, a few more lackadaisical spring days with nothing pressing on my calendar.

Psalm90-4

 

During Lent and Easter, I’ve been reading Tim Muldoon’s book “The Ignatian Workout for Lent” which offers 40 short spiritual reflections based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  On the Monday after Easter (when this misery of waiting brought me to a halt), I read this reflection based on the post-resurrection narrative of Jesus and Peter at the seashore.

The disciples knew Jesus had risen, but they had no idea what this meant!  They had gone back to Galilee and returned to what they knew – fishing.  In hindsight, we see these Easter days as a time of great celebration.  But the disciples were still confused and waiting for Jesus to offer some kind of guidance.  This particular reflection could not have come at a better time for me.  Muldoon writes,

“There will be time for the work of the kingdom; for now, it is enough simply to break bread with Jesus and eat fish with him.  Life after Resurrection is not a relentless cycle of actions to change the world; it involves patient waiting for the Lord.  Most important is not endless activity but willingness to wait for the Lord and simply be with him.  We may be active, but our action will not bear fruit unless the Lord directs it.  Wait for him.” (Muldoon, 152)

As I was putting together these thoughts this morning, I did a quick search of my own writing files.  I found a note, scribbled in the sidebar of a talk I gave nearly ten years ago, when I was making the shift from the corporate world into graduate school.  Given the timing of client visits and other transitions, I had given my notice in April, while I wasn’t starting graduate school until August.  That was a lot of time!

I wrote:  “This period of waiting meant I had time to make peace with my new reality.  It gave me time to make amends with difficult people and situations; time to grieve all that could have been and projects that would be left incomplete; time to create closure on that chapter in my life and truly begin to discern my next career move.”

It’s funny how similar and appropriate those remarks are to my current transition.  These 10-months in between full-time jobs has given me the time and space to grieve and to say farewell to people who were important to me.  It’s also given me a tremendous amount of space to creatively imagine what the future holds and to discern God’s will in the midst of it all.

Again, Henri Nouwen speaks of the creativity of waiting:

To wait open-endedly is an enormously radical attitude toward life. So is to trust that something will happen to us that is far beyond our imaginings. So, too, is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life, trusting that God molds us according to God’s love and not according to our fear. The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, trusting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction. That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control.

I’ve been given every assurance that good news is coming soon.

Thanks for waiting with me.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Wait…Wait…Don’t Tell Me

wwdtmEvery couple of months someone will stop and ask me if I work for National Public Radio. “Do you ever listen to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me? At the end of the show they list off the names of their producers, and I’m sure I heard your name! Are you a closet radio host?!  Are you side-lining for NPR?!”

It happened again a few weeks ago, and the conversation went like this:

Beth!  Are you working for NPR now?

No.

Are you sure?  They said your name on the radio!

Yes, I’m sure.
I’m sure that I don’t work for NPR.
And I am certain that the person’s name you heard is not mine.

++++++++++++
Let’s pause here for a moment and talk about the basics of German pronunciation.  My last name is KNOBBE, and it’s really not as difficult to pronounce as it looks.

Most people (with the exception of customs agents in the Frankfort airport) assume that the letter K is silent, like Knock or Knife or Knob.  That would be logical, but it’s wrong.  As I often explain, “It’s a German thing.”  My last name begins with a hard-K sound, like Kitchen, Keys, Kettle, or Kite.

Better yet, think about how you would pronounce conniption fit (which is how I react when telemarketers call), or the word sour kraut where you pronounce both the K and the R.  Those first few letters are rolled together into one sound.

In recent decades, people ask if I’m related to Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi from Star Wars.  I claim that he is my third cousin twice removed.  (Some people actually believe me!)  I’ve found this to be the most helpful and entertaining synonym! Which is often met with a shower of movie quotes:

It drives me crazy, but whatever it takes for people to remember and correctly pronounce my last name!
++++++++++++

So, why do people seem to think that I’m the web-guru for National Public Radio’s hit show “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me”?  If you listen to the credits at the end of the show, host Peter Sagal thanks their web-guru Beth.  And apparently her last name sounds just like mine!

“She” is not me.  Her name is Beth Novey.  I know this.  It took me months of random google-searches and scouring the NPR website to find her.  (Beth, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry.  Really, I’m not stalking you.  I’m just trying to set the record straight for my friends.)

I do not know the origins of Beth Novey’s last name, but I promise you that her name is pronounced exactly how it’s written: “no-vee”.  Which, in quick succession, sounds a lot like “no-bee” especially if you think the K in my last name is silent.

While I’m not sidelining at NPR, I am happy to report that there are many exciting developments on the job front.  Including two great offers to go back and teach high school again (thank you, but no…).  I am grateful and humbled by the people in my network who continue to call, check in, and forward my name for potential career opportunities.

I had a second-round job interview last week, and hope to have more details to share soon!  Unfortunately, it is not with National Public Radio.  Although, maybe the “Wait, Wait” team would like to invite me onto the show to play “Not My Job” and have me answer questions about what it’s like to be a Web Guru!

Believe it or not, my soon-to-be new employer has a lot in common with NPR – an amazing, national, non-profit organization, located on the east coast…

Wait …. Wait … Don’t Tell Me …

Stay tuned for more updates coming soon!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized