You have heard that it was said that Father Byers does not have an unpublished thought. I admit that this is pretty much the truth of it. But, as I find out, there may well be a couple of good reasons for this.
- The spiritual reason goes back to what apparently Saint Ignatius said about such writing, that it helps to clarify where one is at before God, a kind of examination of conscience for discernment as an occasion – no matter what – to thank Jesus for coming into this world to save us.
- But I’m not so spiritual as all that all the time. The second and perhaps primary reason is analogous (or more) to what a lady visiting the parish for a funeral the other week said about an autistic young man. He liked to think with his body, you know, with fidgeting, bouncing off the walls or sticking to them half sideways, or pacing in quadrants of thought in this part of the room, then the other, then reverting for an extra thought, motionless in a previous quadrant, eking out one last nuance, before jumping to another part of the room, kind of like that. When he was in Kindergarten on the first day, when the teacher let everyone play in whatever way they wanted for 15 minutes, he went up to the teacher to get permission to think. Bewildered, she agreed that he could think. Then to her amazement, she witnessed this kind of choreographied dance, a-waltzing his Matilda of thoughts. I used to do really a lot of that myself, and still do. Strange, right? But that’s me. This has been brought over to writing for me for the most part. When I was writing my doctoral thesis on Genesis, I would go hide in the stacks of the Pontifical Biblical Institute, pretending I was consulting this book or that, but I was really thinking on my feet, dancing about, so to speak, from this quadrant to that. It was all absolutely inconspicuous, and yet the intensity could have brought the building down. Some priest-students like myself, now this one, then another, spying my little quadrant dance, however incredibly discreet, figured out what I was doing. They were stunned by the intensity. One and then the other would come over to me and we would ever so quietly whisper about it for a moment. Each one would say that they were terribly envious. “If only I could do that as well!” they said. Yikes!
Of course, that means that if I am particularly thrown into thought by something, say, Amoris laetitia, I’ll probably end up writing quite a bit. Typing is like thinking on my feet. Perhaps this is a weakness, dancing around with my thoughts. Perhaps I should go spend more time with the Most Blessed Sacrament, in the various quadrants of His Heart, throwing about His words in my heart in some way remotely analogous to the Immaculate Conception’s throwing right round about the words of Jesus in her heart (συμβάλλουσα ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτῆς (Luke 2:19). Perhaps I should go after the sheep more assiduously. Yesterday, after finishing a necessary… um… task… I went on a rather out of the way Communion call. “Out of the way” is rather an understatement. This meant a full eight hours with Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament, heart to Heart, quite literally, with a bit of cor cum cordis loquitur. Didn’t get back until after midnight. The utterly abandoned back roads of the back ridges of the back sides of the mountains, cut off from any cell tower – when sometimes it seems that even the light from the stars and the moon run away – provide that time with Him and the sheep. I think I have the best parish in the world. And so, a-waltzing Matilda I go. Such a dance!
And while some things simply have no words that can be put on them, I can perhaps say that it was while making the last approaches to the descent into the Nantahala Gorge last night that I realized that I had weathered Amoris laetitia with Jesus and my guardian angel, and am stronger for it. And that makes me grateful for those who have asked the Immaculate Conception to pray for me. That I make it through such a thing, I who think way too much and out loud, as it were, perhaps about too many things, that I make it through such a thing is a triumph of her Immaculate Heart. Your prayers on my behalf are your flores for the Immaculate Conception for this sinner. So many flowers for her! And there are no “unpublished” flowers. Jesus quickly hands all of them to her.