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Chris Lyford

notes from a pilgrim

Month

September 2012

New Beginnings

Turn from evil and do good: seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14

Much has happened in the last two months: I have begun teaching at Marin Catholic High School in Kentfield, CA and my son Luke is now off to college at John Paul the Great University in San Diego. Though we are still far from ‘settled’ in terms of our housing situation (no home yet), but we have been able to secure a beautiful 30′ travel trailer, and have a temporary place to lay our heads all due to the generosity and encouragement of a very good ‘sister in the Lord’. We still have no place to park our trailer that is close to work, and we are in need of some kind of vehicle to tow it from place to place safely.

The reality is that we are now in a time of humble thanksgiving to Our Lord for all the gifts of grace He has given us. Our pilgrimage is not over it seems, and yet we are now beginning to reflect on our experience.

I have  had occasion to contemplate many aspects of the ‘good’ things that we have been blessed with, but recently I was able to articulate some of the sorrowful things. Here is what I wrote:

——

Many years ago God gave Vickie and I a choice; we were shown that we could have made a lot of money by going the ‘worldly way’ or we could please God and Our lady by being a ‘family for others’ and living a very humble, vulnerable life. In return, He would continue to give us the grace to raise our children in the fullness of the faith and that they would understand ultimately who their Father and Mother truly were. In the meantime, I would work in His Vineyard and we would always have what we needed, and some of what we want. We are certainly still working on it. Our one consolation is that we have been able to facilitate some very wonderful things in the building up of the kingdom that only He knows about.

And yet in His friendship Jesus invited us to get even closer to Him and to experience the world the way He experiences it. Over the past year and a half, we have learned what it feels like to be discriminated against, judged, and ostracized. We have experienced what it is like to live a life that is a stumbling block for some, and a blessing to others. Our faith has grown strong. Our kids no longer see faith as a ‘theoretical’ concept; they know it as a practical reality. They know what it is like to have to pray for their daily bread, and to trust that even though it’s 9:00 pm and we don’t know where we as a family will be sleeping, that somehow He will make a way. And He has ALWAYS made a way. Never has HE let us down.

More than anything, we all have understood that HE is our daily bread; that the ability to receive Him in daily communion is the only way one can remain a Christian. We have had the privilege of being treated like ‘the least of His brothers’.

Nonetheless we have struggled with the human experience of being rejected and judged as being irresponsible. And it hurts a lot. In fact, we are not even beginning to deal with some of the wounds we have experienced, and though we understand that while God has blessed us with a very thorough purification, it doesn’t mean that the judgements, and internal accusations we have experienced have been what God wanted. In fact what we have experienced is because of sin. Our children know what people have said about us. They have found out that people in the ‘christian – catholic- community’ have said bad things about us, and called us names. It hurts to see your children hurting because of the words from ‘other christians’.

My children have experienced persecution. They did nothing wrong; in fact they have only done what is right; holding on to hope in the midst of what most families could have NEVER endured for over 1 month without completely self destructing. The truth is that we have been sinned against over and over again. And it still hurts. They don’t know us. They don’t understand the journey we have said ‘yes’ to. Yet we understand that what we have given THEM is the opportunity to give without condition or judgement. Some people gave us their spare rooms, or spare houses, or spare couches  with complete joy and an excitement that they were participating in something holy; something prophetic. The result is that they experience that awakening that happens like it did when you first heard about the call to conversion from Jesus. That feeling that you heard the news and applied the grace of conversion before it was too late for your soul. Others did the same , offering their ‘charity’, all the while ‘tsk tsk’ ing in their minds, as if saying like the Pharisee ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity’ Lk 18:11.

It’s pretty easy to tell who is thinking what. And yet who are we? If Jesus  bore the insults that He did without saying one word, who are we to do anything different?

The reason we have gone on this journey, putting our belongings in storage and ‘living a home-free-life’ is because the Lord in His Mercy has given us the opportunity to experience what EVERYONE will experience in the very near future: Judgement. Everyone will give account directly to Jesus for every little sin they have committed, and every little judgement they have made. He has given us permission to proceed with the purification process in advance of the Illumination of Conscience. And even so, it will be a harrowing experience for each of us regardless of how ‘converted’ we think we are.
People are either building up the body of Christ, or tearing it down. The most important thing is that people allow the fullness of complete conversion, deliverance, and healing to occur in their hearts and lives. Heaven is bending over backwards to provide everything people need to be purified, to be truly free to become the person they were created to become; to be TRULY happy.
It’s our hope that as we simply tend to our own vine; work on our own purification process by allowing the Mercy of Jesus to transform us, that others will be inspired to open up as well.
As pilgrims, we have a destination; eternal life with the angels and saints in heaven. Some people have joined us on this ‘new pilgrimage’ even though they have remained in their own lives continuing their own pilgrimage of the heart in their own families.
Others have not joined us, even though we have invited to the best of our abilities. We still love them deeply and pray with that love that they may take that first  step in allowing the transforming, healing presence of Jesus Christ to envelop them and to lead them into the refuge of the Sacramental life of the Church.
“Though none go with us, still we will follow.”
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