I had been worrying about the graveside service for a few days by this point. It’s part of that whole, this is so real, aspect of this whole experience of internship. Sure, I was going to walk with this family who had just lost their baby as they laid the child to rest. It doesn’t get a whole lot more real than that. So I know I need that time to myself before heading to the cemetery. I need that time before our Lord, letting Him remind me that it’s not about me, and it’s not even about what words I can speak, even if it’s all going to be in Spanish anyway. Just remind me Lord, help me get it through my head and into my heart, that it’s not about me, but simply about being there with them. They may never remember what I say, but simply that I was there and that the Church was there, that You were there.
And I’m ready, or as ready as one can be walking into these dark places with the ones we love and journey with. So I start on my way out the door… to find out that one of the priests had taken my car to go hear Confessions at the high school.
This was not the way I had wanted this morning to start out.
Well, I’ve got to get to the cemetery somehow. Thankfully someone else could loan me their car, even if my vestments were in the car that had so inconveniently, but in the end providentially, gone astray. So I grab my funeral rites book and make my way to the service. After greeting the family, never fun in times like these, yet the most important part of what I get to do, I find myself over to the grave site and pull out my book. The wrong book.
This was not the way I wanted this morning to start out.
Having run over to the offices to find no extra books, and finally biting the bullet and driving back to the parish to get the right book, I make the painfully slow journey back to the cemetery, so that I can apologize to a family that is dealing with enough as it is. Mistake after mistake and I’m left frustrated with myself, wishing I was not so flustered.
But also, thankfully, hearing the wisdom of our Pope Francis, reminding his priests that the people will forgive us our stupid, silly little mistakes, but our laziness, our refusal to love, our wickedness and selfishness, they need not endure. And my heart knows that my stupid, silly little mistakes that morning were not because of laziness or selfishness or a lack of love. That’s all they were: stupid, silly little mistakes. And I’m here to encounter those, to keep them from bringing me down, and to recognize that I’m not perfect.
But more importantly, seeing how I could deal with these mistakes, and still somehow bring the comfort that the Church wants to bring to these heartbroken parents, I’m reminded clearer than ever that it’s not about me. And that is ever so comforting. If all of this, if all this encountering Christ with one another, all this walking with another through the joys and struggles of the very real successes and pains of Christian life, all this woundedness that we’re putting ourselves through right now as a world, were about me and how I could fix it, I’d be crushed under this weight, crushed under this expectation of myself.
But we need not let this fear crush us. We are not the saviors. We make the dumbest mistakes sometimes. And the Holy Spirit will make up for these little failures of ours. What I don’t think the Holy Spirit will not do is let us be lazy, selfish, and loveless, and say to us, You’re doing just fine, I’ll get the rest. The Holy Spirit is powerful and I don’t mean to put a limit on just how powerful He is, but let’s be realistic. What the world needs now is not for us to be perfect. It needs us to be honest, authentic, and loving even until it hurts. And sometimes we mess up.
But thank God it doesn’t all depend on our being perfect. Just our being open, honest, authentic, and letting God move us and move through us. He’ll get the rest.