I would say that scripture can best be described as the undercurrent in my life. It is that constant wisdom that has pulled me out of myself. Scripture is the words which have peppered my daily living with the way, the truth and the life. Scripture is more than words and more than a path it is an encounter and a continuous engagement with The Word – Jesus. As a Franciscan who has vowed to live his life in the pattern of the gospel, scripture is the map and the destination; it is points of interest and places of nourishment. It calls to me when I fail to spend more time with it, it awakens me to truths and depths on who I am and it raises me up to new heights as I continue to discover who I am as a Child of God.
I am grateful for the introduction to scripture when I was a child. In grade 4 when we were presented our bibles in religion class, I knew I was being entrusted with something that was not meant to collect dust rather it would be my faithful companion for the journey. I am thankful that during my liturgical and theological studies I had great professors who challenged me to go deeper with the words I was reading for they are in a sense tattooed on my heart.
Several months before my Solemn Vows our Provincial Minister challenged me to pray with the scripture I would like for the Solemn Vows Eucharist. He suggested I let it sit within me and to let the words fill me for they would be a branding – a way which will speak of my life as a Solemnly Professed Friar. This was wise advice and I am grateful for his comments.
The celebration of Solemn Vows in some ways is a launching point and in others ways it is a connection to the journey which has led to this point. It is a reflection of life lived so far and the next part of the journey which is unfolding. I pondered that as I looked to the scripture which spoke to my journey, my turning points and this launching. The scripture which I ended up selecting spoke of listening to and for God. They spoke of being rooted and free in Christ (much like St. Francis) and they spoke of humble service, witness and generosity. Yes, these would be the phrases which I would accept as my branding, the desire for my life as I continue as a Friar and as I embrace who I am as a Child of God.
Each piece of scripture would also be proclaimed by people who have journeyed with me. They would represent the ebb and flow of life, the connections which support journeys and be the voices of a people gathered as one community the evening of my Solemn Vows.
The first piece of scripture was proclaimed by longest life friend Heidi (we met on the first day of Kindergarten). It was from the Old Testament – 1 Kings 19: 9, 11-13. It is the story of Elijah encountering God in the still small voice or silence. These verses are significant to my journey for after I was asked that famous question, “Why the heck aren’t you a Friar?” and I had nothing to say – it was in that silence that ‘something clicked’ – that I was quiet enough to let the still small voice of God whisper, “Yes, why aren’t you?” The first time I heard this scripture proclaimed after the night of that question I couldn’t believe it as it felt like my experience. These verses also speak of listening to God, contemplation and being a vessel for God for these too are significant in the branding I embrace.
Psalm 63 was selected and sung by my friends Chad and Michaela. “God my God you I crave, my soul thirsts for you like a dry and weary land” is the refrain which has rung in my ears for years. I first remembering hearing this psalm sung in a large chapel by a deacon about 12 years ago. His voiced filled the chapel and filled my heart. I was completely moved as once again scripture was speaking to my journey. This longing for God is a life long journey; this craving is what keeps me focused and driven on gospel living and is the gift of a life time journey. Not a craving in desperation rather a craving to draw closer to the one who is the fountain of life-giving water.
The New Testament scripture from Ephesians (3:14-20) was proclaimed by Friar Jean-Louis in French. These verses penned by St. Paul speak of being rooted in Christ and being immersed in his love. For me, they speak of dwelling in Christ for the width and breadth, height and depth of his love is ever present to me. Christ challenges me to bring him to the world as I try to live as a holy and living icon and tabernacle. I will never fully grasp the love of God and for that I am thankful, but this scripture is encouragement to be aware of that love each day.
John 13:1-15 was proclaimed by my friend Deacon Ryan. It is the story about Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. It is the gospel which St. Francis requested be read as he was dying. This gospel is core to who I am. A man of service, a man giving his all for Christ and his brothers and sisters, a man who takes his lead from Christ and tries each day to embody being a servant – humble, joy-filled and aware. A man who through his words and actions tries to radiate Christ, being a messenger of the Good News – of God with us – always, of love and being loved. A man who sees with his heart and acts from and with his heart, a man who eagerly desires to serve well and not be ashamed of who I am. A man who is brother and friend. A man who when he forgets all of this is called back to living this pattern of the gospel because of this scripture.
These are the readings which were proclaimed at the celebration of my Solemn Vows. They branded me as I walk into vowed life for they have been anchors for me in the journey to vows and will continue to be so in the weeks and years ahead. This Good News is my good news and who I am as a Child of God.