The Patriots are taking on the Giants in the Superbowl this weekend - Go Patriots! Four years ago they played each other. It was supposed to be the end of the perfect season for the Pats. All signs said they would win throughout the whole game, but then in the last minute they lost. The perfect season record was gone. I'm a die hard Pats fan, but what hurt more than anything at that moment was that I felt like all magic was gone. That night I went home alone for the first time in eight years. I'd left my relationship and I was lost. If only I had known that day that the real magic in my life was just beginning.
It was only a few weeks later that I met a man who would help me to transform my life. His name was Father Anthony and he was the pastor at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Sacramento. If anyone had told me in the years before that I would return to Catholicism I would've laughed. I had left the church when I was eleven with no intentions to return. But on a day where I was down and lost, I found myself walking into St. Francis.
Father Anthony was presiding and in his homily he said, "If God didn't want you to be abundant than why did he put so much pollen in every flower?" He took one a flower from around the baptismal and shook it so that the yellow pollen sprinkled to the floor. "Look at the grass and the leaves. Go to the grocery store and see how many apples are produced. Everywhere you look life is overflowing in abundance. You're supposed to live fully and in a beautiful way."
When I left the church and looked up at the steeple I wondered if I had really entered a Catholic church. I was so curious about this pastor that I had to return the next week. Once again, I walked in feeling alone and lost - feeling like there was a lack of love in my life. Father Anthony seemed to speak directly to me, "When you feel like there's no love in your life go out in the sun. Stand there for a moment and soak it in. God is like the sunlight. You don't have to be worthy of the sun, you don't have to be anything but present. Look around and see all the beauty God has provided." Father Anthony threw up his arms and laughed this crazy laugh that made the entire church join in the laughter. "You aren't meant to be miserable but happy."
I'm not trying to get religious in this blog by telling you what my priest said to me, but his words began to change my life. I left the church that day and I went for a walk in the park. I sat in the sun and suddenly I didn't feel so alone. I looked at the flowers beginning to bud and realized that this priest was right - there was a world of abundance and I could wallow in what I didn't have, or I could start seeing what was right in front of me. It took me many months to heal, my brother almost dying, and a lot of quiet contemplation to find my way to making my list of dreams. In the last three and a half years of my journey to go after my list of dreams it's been Father Anthony's humor and wisdom that has sometimes been my guiding voice. He's become a friend as we've worked together on Parish Council.
Yesterday he announced that he will be leaving our church. He's been offered a position teaching novices. In four months he will move away and I won't have his homilies. I realized when he said he was leaving that he has been one of the main reasons I've stayed in Sacramento, California. His announcement has left me questioning if it's time for me to move as well.
The next four months are about working on my book, building my business, training hard in skating, and working towards going on a round the world trip. I'm not certain what the road ahead holds, but I know that things are changing in my life. I'm feeling restless and I'm wondering if there is something even bigger and better waiting for me.
I don't know if Father Anthony knows what he brought to my life or how much he helped me. I guess no one ever knows how they might inspire another. But people come into our lives and they touch us deeply. For me he was one of the greatest gifts I could ever receive.