The Journey Forward

So much has changed in my life since the last time I used this blog. Here I am, at the cusp of another great adventure, staring into the maw of doctoral program applications, GRE preparation, and the tingling anticipation that comes with knowing that the future is entirely out of my hands.

A year ago, I was engaged to be married. I was intending to settle into a quiet life, to fade from the front lines. I thought that I had found the road God wanted me on, and that this time, the doors in front of me would stay open.

I was wrong.

And I have never been happier to be wrong.

It turns out that the old adage about telling God your plans is true. And sometimes, I think I must amuse God more than anyone else does, because I dearly love to plan, to worry, to plot, to scheme. I don’t know how to relinquish control. I fight Him every single step of the way like a nap-deprived toddler in the candy aisle. I want it. I don’t know what it is, but I want it, and I want it NOW!

But God has never let me settle for less than He desires for me. He has dragged me, kicking and screaming, through all the wrong turns I have made. God doesn’t just close doors in my life. He slams them, nails boards across them, and sticks a chair under the knob. He sends angels to lurk on the other side with tranquilizers just in case I get uppity. And He puts a big piece of spiritual cake under a neon sign in front of the door He actually wants me to go though.

I’ve never stood a chance.

And yes, I have been hurt in the process. But it was the hand that touched the hot stove that caused the burn, not the hand that pulled it away. Every ounce of suffering in my life has been because I was impatient with God, stubborn, and frankly, just plain rebellious.

I have learned something these past few months of Grad School. And I know that it’s a lesson I’m going to keep having to re-learn, but all the same, I have learned it for now: God’s Will will be done. No matter what. And this isn’t fatalism. I have the ability to choose, if only to choose the easy way or the hard way. But the Hound of Heaven is one heck of a sheepdog, and it’s probably a lot better for me if I just try to do things right the first time.

So, moving forward, I’m going to try even harder to let God lead me, and not to fight Him on every little thing just because I can.

I truly believe that He has amazing things in store, not just for me, but for every single one of you.

Let Him do His thing.

Or, you know, you could actually HELP Him do it. That’s probably a better option.

That was a nice vacation. Let’s get back on the road.

-E.G. Norton

St. Philip Neri, Patron of Tricksters

A Saint and his tiny fluffy dog? (via Love in the Ruins)

A Saint and his tiny fluffy dog?
Definitely a Dominican!
(via Love in the Ruins)

Ok, to be fair, St. Philip Neri isn’t an obscure saint. He’s pretty well known. But I’m also not a hipster. Well, not since high school.

"My favorite saint? You've probably never heard of them."

“My favorite saint?
You’ve probably never heard of them.”

St. Philip is one of my favorite saints because he was impulsive and pretty much did what he wanted, so I suppose we have a lot in common.

It was said when he was a child that he once decided to jump on top of a donkey, just for the lolz. The donkey freaked out (naturally) and bucked little Philip into a well, where he was miraculously unharmed.

You’d think he’d eventually learn to stop doing crazy things that might get him killed or at least mocked, but he was always the Church’s special Dominican snowflake.

At 36, he founded the Congregation of the Oratory, following the rule that “You can’t just tell people to stop sinning, you have to give them something better to do.” For example, when Carnival came around — a time known for excess and debauchery even today (here’s looking at you, New Orleans) — he organized an epic pilgrimage hike, including a picnic and music and good times.

"In fact, forget the pilgrimage!" (via Comedy Central)

“In fact, forget the pilgrimage!” (via Comedy Central)

His young cohort were so tired after the twelve-mile hike that they couldn’t possibly get into mischief.

On top of that, he was known to make himself available to people at any time of day, even in the wee hours of the morning. This was unheard of at the time, and even frowned upon.

He was also known for using creative methods to convert people. In one of my favorite stories, he met a criminal who refused to repent. Rather than being quiet and gentle as was expected of a priest, he grabbed him by the collar and threw him to the ground in a move that, as a martial artist, I’m extremely jealous of. The guy was so shocked by this that he repented immediately.

I mean, come on. Wouldn’t you? Guy had skills.

In the 16th Century, nobody knows you're Bruce Lee. Nobody. (via The Feel-Good Lifestyle)

In the 16th Century, nobody knows you’re Bruce Lee. Nobody.
(via The Feel-Good Lifestyle)

While he was serious about his prayer life, he loved to have a good time and to humiliate himself to stay humble. He was frequently seen wandering about in odd clothes and with half his beard shaved off. He also was very fond of joke books and was generally a playful trickster.

He didn’t let other people get away with pride either. When one young man asked him if he could wear a hair shirt for penance (a common mortification and extremely itchy), he said, “Sure!” But he made the man wear it outside his clothing instead of against his skin, which of course looked absolutely ridiculous. Thus, it wasn’t an itchy mortification, but super mortifying mortification.

His creative and amusing methods didn’t always end well for him. In fact, for a saint, he was really good at pissing off the church authorities. The Pope’s Vicar even accused him of making a mockery of the Church by “introducing novelties” through his odd penances and random outings, and the Pope made him shut down his Oratory. . . until the Vicar suddenly and unexpectedly died.

(via Memegenerator)

(via Memegenerator)

He is the patron saint of laughter, tricksters, the US Special Forces, Rome, and comedians.

-E. G. Norton