Last Friday, our priest, Fr. Denny, gave a homily and used the example of a trip he once took to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) to make a point.
He told the story that he and a group from his former parish had set out into the BWCA wilderness and were well on their way when he realized they were missing the backpack with necessary equipment–like tents. So, he and another person decided to go back to base and retrieve the pack.
As they made the portages carrying the canoe from lake to lake, they realized that they would not make it back before nightfall, so they turned around. Making their way back to the group, they ended up in the middle of a large lake after the sun had set. The lake was so big and it was so dark that they could not find their portage, which would reunite them with their group. Then, they saw a little light far on the other side of the lake. It was a campfire.
Fr. Denny asked everyone at Mass if they thought that God had lit that campfire for them. Many of us replied “yes!” But, Fr. Denny surprised us when he said that he did not think so. (I believe that got the attention of many people in attendance.)
Rather than believing that God had started the campfire to guide them, he chose to believe that God simply used the campfire that another group of campers had lit. The campers did not know that they were guiding a lost canoe to shore. That was not their motive to light the fire. Their intention was to simply stay warm and probably cook dinner, just like campers would ordinarily do.
The point of the story was that many times God uses us in ways we do not even realize.
Well, I have had heard a message like that quite a few times in the last couple weeks, but I still was having trouble making sense of it.
The message/question started when I was reading the chapter Bringing Hope from Joyce Rupp’s book, Open the Door. She talks about how we are not to focus on the results of our actions. We are to be committed to our actions with passion and take responsibility for what we do, but we are not meant to worry about the results. That part is not in our hands. That part is in God’s hands.
Is having a reason for doing something–having a goal or vision–not what God wants us to do? I was having trouble grasping that idea.
When I read the status of a friend last night on facebook, I could not help but smile. This is the quote she posted, which Desmond Tutu said to another spiritual leader:
We are only the light bulbs, and our job is just to remain screwed in.
Do you think there is a message here I am supposed to learn?
I am also doing some research on St. Birgitta (Bridget, Brigida) of Sweden right now. (Not to be confused with St. Bridget of Ireland.) St. Brigitta is the founder of the Brigettine Order, also known as the Order of the Most Holy Savior.
She is the Patroness of Widows; however, she is also referred to as the Patroness of Failures. This last reference is part of what makes her so interesting to me. Though she wrote the Rule for the Brigettine Order, she never realized her dream of it becoming an established monastic order. This did not happen until after her death.
I will tell you more about what I have read about her in another post, but I am hearing God saying to me in more ways that one, that more times than not, he uses ordinary people doing ordinary things to carry out his plan. In other words, God uses simply who we are. We do not need to be anyone else. God can even use ordinary things we do, like lighting a campfire when we are camping.
Enter, the Book of Esther–a Beth Moore bible study I just started last night with a group of women from our parish.
Another smile came upon me as I began this study. Okay, God. I think I am beginning to get it. =)