Tag Archives: Secrets

The Messenger

I recently came across a story about a girl who fell into deep depression while at school in New York. One day she decided to write a letter. It was addressed to no one in particular, and it wasn’t about the girl writing; it was about whoever would find the letter. She told the finder of the letter that they were wonderful and beautiful, and that she hoped they would have lovely times to come. She noticed that writing the letter, and leaving it for someone to find made her feel better, so she kept writing and anonymously leaving letters.

Eventually, though, she started a blog about it, and the idea caught on. People started writing letters and leaving them on the bus, on park benches, on restaurant seats, and sticking out of books in libraries. People would comment on the blog posts of the girl who started the phenomenon, personally requesting letters of encouragement, and she would write and send letters to them. This is actually what inspired me to find a pen pal, but yesterday morning I dreamed that I found a group of boys who were doing it. The dream was so real that I took it as a sign from God that I should get a move on and start leaving love notes.

My mom and I went out to lunch yesterday, and the Paper Store was in the same plaza, so I scurried over there and found two stacks of sparkly cards with different designs on them. Last night my mom and I finished listening to an audiobook about a girl who converted from Islam to Christianity, called “Hiding in the Light.” I highly recommend it. The story was absolutely crazy. The point is, at various points, the girl quotes from Scripture. Towards the end of the book, she quoted the entirety of Psalm 29, so I looked it up to read it for myself. The last two verses really stuck with me: “The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever. May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace.” Psalm 29:10-11

Today I wrote two love notes and went to the chapel where they have adoration most weekdays until midnight. I left one of the notes in an empty chair, but decided I’d keep the other with me to leave somewhere else. I ended up spending just over an hour in the chapel. I hadn’t really expected to, but almost as soon as I showed up, I started crying. I’ve been a bit of an emotional train wreck lately. I need to stop watching the news. Too much bad is happening. It just doesn’t seem like enough, or to be honest, really anything is being done about the abuse crisis in the Church, and that really bothers me. People are angry at God, and leaving the Church, and that’s no answer, and He doesn’t deserve that. There is other bad news, too though. I’m tired of violence and natural disasters. On top of all that, some people I know are having some weird relationship issues. All of this is just really weighing me down, and it seems to be causing me a fair amount of writer’s block, which isn’t helping matters.

While I was in the chapel, though, Jesus reminded me of two things. I wear a necklace with three treasures on it. One is a Miraculous Medal of Mary, the other is a medal of Saint Faustina with the Divine Mercy image on it, and the third is a tiny silver Sacred Heart. In particular, Jesus brought to my mind His Sacred Heart. He seemed to be saying, “I know. My Heart hurts, too.” He also brought to my mind a hymn that’s occasionally used in Church. It’s called “You Are Mine” by David Hass. I had my phone with me, so I looked up the lyrics. I couldn’t listen to it because I didn’t have my ear buds with me, but the song is written from Jesus’ point of view, and it was like He was silently singing to me. The Chorus of the song is: “Do not be afraid I am with you/ I have called you each by name/ Come and follow me/ I will lead you home/ I love you and you are mine.” I find that very comforting.

What I’m really struggling with right now is that it’s not my own problems that are causing me all this emotional trouble. It’s other people’s problems. It’s the problems of people I don’t even know. I realized while I was praying, though, that this must have been exactly what Gethsemane must have felt like. The whole thing just feels awkward and disjointed. On a strictly personal level, my life is going great right now. I can’t think of life on a strictly personal level any more, though. Life is always, and always has to be shared. On a scientific level, it’s just a fact; humans are social animals, but on a spiritual level, it’s even more weighty. We have to love because Jesus loved us first, and love can seriously hurt.

The ironic thing is that giving love in a real, tangible way seems to be the remedy for that hurt. Leaving the anonymous love note in the chapel felt good. Just writing the love notes feels good. I hope I can make people marginally happier with the love notes. I like the fact that it’s anonymous. It’s kind of nice to have it be a secret. I prayed over the two love notes I’ve written, so I like the idea that they’re really God’s love notes and I’m just the messenger. The note I left in the chapel was actually just the quote from Psalm 29. I’ve memorized it because, like the hymn, I find the finality of it comforting. “The Lord sits enthroned over the flood. The Lord sits enthroned as king forever.” No matter how insane the world gets, God is in control. God is over the flood. God is king forever. God is a good king and that will never change. I know that, and I can trust that.

Something I Never Do

Last Saturday I went to confession. This is something I almost never do, and when I say almost never, I mean I haven’t gone in several years. For the longest time I shared the belief with many that one could confess their sins directly to God. I’m starting to feel a little differently about that. In part, however, I just needed to talk to someone, so I figured I would go to my priest.

I can write about it here now because what I discussed with him isn’t exactly a big secret. In fact I’ve talked–or whined about it here before, but in a slightly different way.

I confessed to my priest that I worry about the world. That there are things in the world that scare me; that I want to change, but I don’t do anything about them because I don’t know how or don’t have the resources or ability to. What was bothering me–what has been bothering me off and on for a long time–is that I don’t try and figure out new ways in which I can help. I just give up before I even try.

My priest seemed to think this was a strange thing to be confessing at first, but then he started asking me questions:

do you feel like you have a strong relationship with God?

I think so…

Can you pray?

Yeah…

Do you pray about the stuff that scares you and that you want to change?

Yeah…

Well prayer is super powerful. Really amazing things happen because people pray. Don’t underestimate it.

Okay.

But what else are you doing now? How’s school going?

I just graduated.

Oh, congrats! What’s your next step?

I’m writing a novel.

Great! What’s your novel about?

It’s science fiction… but I plan to use some of the proceeds to donate to charity and stuff.

Well, great. God has given you a gift. You can write and you’re committed to it. Can you use that gift in other ways?

I have a blog…

You can kind of figure out where the conversation went from there. I was hoping to be told what to do differently. I was hoping he would give me some brilliant insight or tell me about a new charity that needed a social media manager. Instead he told me that I should basically be doing more of what I have been doing: pray more and write more; be more intentional about it; Plan blog posts; read scripture; do the rosary or at least make an effort to pray every day. It was actually the most encouraging thing he could have told me.

There were other things I confessed to, but they were more concrete, and not things I want to talk about here. I’m working on those things. I think overall, going to confession was very good for me. Ironically, it’s comforting to know that someone else knows my dirty little secrets, and I can trust him to keep them. I also feel like since he knows them I’m more accountable and I have more responsibility to work on them. In my mind it doesn’t make sense. It feels like these things should only be between me and God. I honestly don’t know much about penance from a spiritual standpoint. Once again I have to do some research.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Dark Secrets Are Hard To Keep

In October 2014, Oren Yakobovich made it very clear to the world that dark secrets are becoming much harder to keep. He gave a TED Talk explaining how the use of hidden cameras is making it much easier for exploited people to get their story told. He began with the story of Mary, a woman from a small village in Africa who used a camera hidden in her dress to showcase the violence and intimidation used to sway local elections. Before such technology was available to exploited people, militia were forcing people from their homes, murdering innocent people, and abusing their power in unspeakable ways. Mary got her video into the right hands, and it was broadcast all over the world, including back to her community. This changed things because it made the perpetrators realize that they were not invulnerable and that they would be brought to Justice. This was made possible through organizations such as Videre.

Videre as an organization that Yakobovich started along with Uri Fruchtmann. They work with exploited communities to get them the technology they need, and then to broadcast what they film to the world. In hist talk, Yakobovich explains that it is very important for the people to film these things instead of professional reporters because it has a higher impact on the world. It gives these people the sense that they have the power to make change, and it makes those who are in power think twice before continuing perpetrating injustice.

Yakobovich also shows some of the technology that is being used to make this process possible, and it is truly amazing. He explains that the kind of camera Mary was using is tiny and literally blends into its surroundings so that it is almost undetectable. However, there is more involved with this process than simply providing people with cameras. He explains that there is a lot of planning involved. Before any filming even takes place, the organization works with the camera person to come up with a backup plan if something goes wrong. Furthermore, there is a specific process through which video has to be verified. The credibility of these kinds of videos is extremely important in the cause for justice.

Yakobovich was inspired to on this project as a result of his service in the Israeli army. He saw what the Israeli army and police were doing to the resident Palestinians in the West Bank, and was shocked and dismayed. In fact, his work in this area started right at home. He eventually refused to serve in the West Bank and had to spend time in jail because of it.

The link to the original talk and transcript is here: 

Trust

Trust is a powerful and precious thing. It can be the difference between success and failure. It can mean getting ahead or staying where you are. It can seem very dangerous or costly to willingly give away your trust, but the truth is that you must. Love and trust go hand in hand. If you are trusting, people will see you as someone they can trust. If you are suspicious, people will see you as someone to be wary of.

Perhaps in the dangerous world we live in you will say “You can never be too careful.” You avoid talking to strangers and allow a healthy dose of paranoia to linger over you. The truth is that everyone is not out to get you. In fact, it is likely that no one is out to get you… Except perhaps that annoying neighbor kid with the super soaker. If you trust everyone will you get screwed once in a while? Yeah, but that’s life. You only have two options: let everyone in or let no one in. This does not mean you should tell everyone your deepest, darkest secrets; all it means is that you should be courteous, offer assistance if someone looks like they could use some help, accept assistance, tell people about yourself and listen to their story. Friends are always strangers before you meet them.

Trust people and allow them to trust you. Secrets are not fun to keep on your own sometimes. Allow someone to tell you their secrets, and tell them your own. Keep in mind that a secret is something that should never, under any circumstances be told. Therefore, we must hold each other accountable.