When I retired, 16 months ago, I prayerfully considered what I might do during the workday hours. The words “be radically available” came to mind, so I began to ponder what that might mean.
Mornings I lingered in our prayer room until time to walk to morning Mass and occasionally invited friends over for a visit. I called family and friends and gave myself permission to engage in longer conversations. I said “no” to invitations to volunteer as a catechist. I began to read books I’d long neglected and looked forward to a long overdue visit with my four sisters. And I wondered what being radically available might look like in the retirement home we planned to build in Cornville.
Then in July of 2021, I participated in Restore Dignity’s Grief to Grace retreat and in the following months connected with friends who had been transformed through their encounter with Christ on the retreat. A strong desire to help others find healing grew until on the morning of February 8, 2022 I prayed, “Lord, you know my heart is longing to serve on the March retreat and I know the policy requires us to wait at least a year before serving, so I give you this desire. But if someone calls me to work the retreat, I will say “yes”.
That same evening I received a call from the team leader. A team member who had planned to work the retreat had backed down. Would I consider joining the team? It was Tuesday, with the first planning meeting on Friday. Because of my earlier prayer I didn’t need to deliberate, I knew I belonged on the team. We rejoiced at the mysterious ways of God.
The next evening I received a text from one of Evan’s rafting friends. He’d been rafting with a Guatemalan friend, the raft flipped and he’d already been missing for six hours.
I fumed at God, “So, is this the way You do things? You put a desire in my heart to help others process trauma, and now you’re going to give me some REAL trauma?”
Silence overshadowed the anchor of hope to which I clung.
Doug and I prayed together and he sang over me, entrusting Evan into the love and mercy of Jesus. Perhaps we were in the denial stage of grief, but I’m still amazed that we slept that night.
It was only later, with the help of a friend that I realized my initial perspective was a bit skewed. God wasn’t giving me trauma, rather he foresaw it and gifted me with people who were well trained in accompanying those experiencing trauma. He arranged for them to support me in my hour of greatest need. His ways truly are mysterious.
When I began this post I was at Cana’s house. Because her washing machine is broken she was busy collecting eight loads of laundry to take to the “washateria”. When the sounds of a fussing baby penetrated my concentration I recognized my call to be radically available here and now. As I carried EvanMarie outdoors, she quieted and I thought about how the call to be radically available is also a call to be interruptible.
Being radically available means first of all being attuned to the loving care of God the Father, to Jesus who is the Word of God become flesh, and to the Holy Spirit who is grace and love moving among us.
Being radically available means trusting that right here, right now, I have everything I need both for my own needs and to care for those around me. It means refusing to worry over the future or the past.
I’m not sure how this blog fits into being radically available, except perhaps my willingness to be available to share what’s on my heart and mind with readers may nourish a spark of faith, hope, or love.
And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful.Colossians 3:15
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Jesus was interruptible. How often the gospels report him stopping to help while he was on his way to do something else! He even allowed the crowds to interrupt his rest time after the disciples he had sent out to spread the good news returned and he needed to spend time alone with them. Another time, while on his way to raise a dead girl to life, he stopped in the middle of the crowd that was pressing in all around him and asked, “Who touched me?” He made sure that the woman who had been healed from her vaginal bleeding was recognized and affirmed for her faith.