Thursday, April 28, 2011

Reading Between The Lines

I have often prayed, "God, don't make me read between the lines."

I prefer to know what God wants in some situations rather than have to try to figure it out. God, however, laughs. It seems the Divine One prefers faith to knowledge, and continues to drop hints rather than spell it out.

One of the ways I try to figure out God's suggestions is to look for a thread. If the same idea comes up in differing contexts and from a variety of sources I become suspicious, "Maybe God's trying to tell me something."

That's the way I came to admire Dorothy Day.

Over several months, in books I was reading, the name Dorothy Day kept coming up. I thought I detected a thread connecting me to her story so I bought her autobiography The Long Loneliness.

Her story led me to the film Entertaining Angels (Moira Kelly as Dorothy, with Martin Sheen and Brian Keith). Then came the publication of her diaries, The Duty of Delight.

It was this last book which especially caught my attention. I had to smile when I read the notations for May 5 and 6, 1944. Dorothy was visiting The Grail (a women's spirituality center) in Foster's, Ohio. She wrote about having to walk to Mass in the nearby church, St. John's.

"We crossed the high bridge," she said, " walked a half mile down the highway, turned down a side road and came back by another bridge and down the river to the church." She was describing the descent to the church of my baptism. It was my parent's parish, and there I was baptized April 9, 1944.

The coincidence of time and proximity struck me. I wonder if I could have attended Mass with Dorothy Day --even if I was but an infant.

As I thought about it, I remembered that one summer in my teenage years I was hired to cut the grass at the Grail Farm where Dorothy stayed. I have a vague recollection that there used to be a marker on the property commemorating her visit. (I went back to look for it a couple years ago, but the farm had been sold and the marker was nowhere to be found.)

Then, last month, while I was staying at St. Procopius Abbey in Lisle, Illinois, I saw a lithograph of Dorothy Day hanging in one of sitting areas of the Benedictine monastery. I took a photo of it. It was the first time I ever stayed in a monastery, and outside the door to my room is a picture of Dorothy Day!

Finally, last week, while reading Rosalie Riegle's book Dorothy Day: Portraits By Those Who Knew Her, I came across a new piece of information: "...Dorothy became a Benedictine oblate. She chose St. Procopius Abbey of Lisle, Illinois, because of its special work toward the reunion of Rome and the Eastern church."

Those experiences are what I mean by "a thread." And I ask myself, "Is God trying to tell me something? What am I to learn from Miss Day?"

God says several times in the Bible, "My ways are not your ways." In spite of my efforts to get God to change and do it my way, the Divine One insists on a heaven-inspired modus operandi in dealing with things (and people) on earth.

I'm sure I will continue to ask God not to ask me to read between the lines, especially in critical matters. And I'm equally sure that both Father and Son will continue to do things their way.

My hope is that the Spirit will be there to guide me, to help me enjoy the detective work, to assist me in the adventure of reading between the lines.

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