Friday, October 30, 2009

Red Trees

I had a big imagination. Okay, so I think they call it delusions of grandeur. I was nineteen and heading off to my semester in Rome, Italy. My high school boyfriend had broken up with me. Like all hard times in my life, I felt close to God. I felt particularly close this time, like if I turned around quickly, I might see my Guardian Angel.

It was a sign, my boyfriend breaking up with me. A sign, I thought. I am called to be a missionary, a nun, something holy. I was ready to give up everything for God and become famously holy.

Then I landed in Rome: The Papal City, the Catacombs, the Coliseum where so much blood had been shed for Christ. My class was even granted a private mass with John Paul II. I spoke to the Pope, gave him flowers. He said, "You do not look old enough to be in college." And what did I feel...Nothing. I was having the longest driest spell of my young life.

We visited Assisi, the home of my favorite Saint, St. Francis. And what was the homily? The duty of the rich to the poor. What? I am willing to give up everything, all material possessions, marriage, family, everything and you are giving me 'duty of the rich to the poor'? And what was the response?...Nothing.

Toward the end of the semester, we were reading The Book of Job in literature class. I wasn't really paying attention. I was flipping through the bible trying to get my silent God to say something, anything. To feel something, anything. I flipped to the Psalm of the Happy Man. I paraphrase:

The happy man is like a tree near ever running water whose leaves are always green.

Isn't that just like God? I thought. A happy tree is red. The first red tree of fall standing out like a beacon amongst the still yet green on the side of a mountain.

And then I understood. I felt something, I knew something. "You will not be a red tree and be happy. I could make you a red tree, but you would loose your soul. No, my child, you will be green. Your roots will be deep, but you will look like every other tree on the mountainside. This is how you will be happy, you whose leaves must always be green. You think you know what makes you happy, I know."

And He does, doesn't He? He always knows and sometimes we don't.

I still love red trees best. Sometimes I still want to be one. But I know that I would not be happy, at least not for long. As delusions of grandeur fade with youth, I just hope what I thought I knew, thought I felt in Rome comes true. I hope my roots will grow deep even if He is the only one who knows.

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