February 11, 2010
I am in the midst of slowly reading and re-reading this gem of a book called 5 Loaves and Two Fish. The book is about Cardinal Francis Nguyen Van Thuan of Vietnam. He was arrested by the Communist government in the 70's and was in solitary confinement for 9 years, imprisoned for 13. His book is about giving your all to God, no matter who much it is, basing his efforts on the scripture where the young boy gives Jesus his 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. It was all the boy had. It was everything.
Anyway- I am sure I'll be back with another post about this book but something I was re-reading this morning struck me. The now Cardinal tells a story of a man who used to come into the Church, kneel, and leave quickly. One day someone asked him what he prayed so quickly. He said that he was an "old, ignorant" man and he walked in each day and said "Jesus, Here I am. It's Jim." It was all the prayer the man knew how to pray. And it was everything.
Later in life, this man was in a nursing home. He spread so much joy to people that people asked about where he found such joy. He never had a visitor or anyone inquire about him. He stated that when he entered the nursing home, he asked for 2 chairs to be placed by his bed. One for the priest, and one for Jesus. And he said, with full conviction, that Jesus does come to visit him. And to this sweet, old man, Jesus says "Jim, Here I am, It's Jesus." And that was all the man needed. And it was everything.
I love the simplicity of this. How complicated we like to make faith! Do we know spiritual laws? Do we know the catechism front to back? Do we get to Mass every single day? How often is your prayer time?? And not to diminish the healing power these things can have in our lives, but sometimes, it's no so complicated. Sometimes, as another old man from St. Vincent's used to say "Keep it Simple, Stupid." Now, we need not be as harsh as the crazy Chemistry professor, but really, it is pretty simple.
There are days when we can't muster the Rosary or an in-depth prayer. There are days when pain and angst is so deep that we can't utter the words. Then there are days where our gratitude is so big and our hearts so full, that we can't utter the words. So be it. All He really wants is us- to say hello, to be in his presence, without the clutter of all those words.
How I wish I had read this book so many years ago. It's so much more simple than we make it.
"Jesus, Here I am, It's Keri."