Monday, March 19, 2012

Same Place, Same Miracle

I've thought of a good idea for catching up when I fall behind on the blog: I'll just plagiarize myself! This is something I posted last year at this time, in the midst of the St. Patrick-St. Joseph holiday spree in the middle of Lent. It was a busy weekend, and, like last year, we went to some parties with our friends. I must say, however, that our friends are extraordinary people. They are the special people that Jesus has given us in His great mercy to be companions on our journey toward Him. With all their faults and incoherence, they have met Christ and they try to follow Him in His Church. We are a small fragile group, full of all the problems that afflict ordinary human life, and yet at the same time we are a people. At a simple party, I glimpse again that light that shines in the midst of any community that gathers in recognition of His presence, and in the desire to follow Him. Right here in Front Royal, there is what Msgr. Giussani calls the "different humanity." And it is not a narrow thing. It aspires to the whole world. Here's what I wrote last year, after the St. Patrick's Day party. I can still say the same thing today:
I did not begin to take Christ seriously in my life because I had a mystical vision, or some kind of paranormal experience. I discovered, in a new way, that Christ was real when I met a group of friends who really followed Him, and who also lived life with exuberance, vitality, interest, freedom, and joy. People who were able to be themselves without constraint, who were glad to be alive, who were ready to give and sacrifice themselves and also to have fun, whenever having fun was the appropriate way to respond to the reality at hand. And it is often appropriate, because real human life is full of so much that is ironic, so much that is beyond our control, unexpected, petty, burdensome, so much that is a little bit ridiculous.
In front of real human life, some are cynical, while others are distracted, detached, or sad. The miracle in front of real human life is cheerfulness, an innocent spirit of fun that is not dislodged by life because it knows the place of everything. It is a playful wisdom. It is joy.
This is what converted me to Christ. Not scrupulous religious intensity. Not intellectual brilliance. Not the desire for a safe place to hide. What converted me was meeting a group of people who believed that it might be possible for life to be fun after all--and that the laughter of children was not a deception destined to end in disappointment. Not because life is easy, but because there is Something that makes every minute of it worth living, even embracing with joy.
This is what converted me to Christ: the miracle of human beings who were glad to be alive, who were full of hope, who were not afraid.