Later, in the afternoon, I went to River's Edge to listen to Taklung Matul Rinpoche discuss the difficulties associated with leading a compassionate life. If I were to tell you the truth, I did not understand the connections the Lama was trying to make in his talk; it was a bit too swirly for my taste. But I could have looked at Rinpoche all day long. He had, like His Holiness has, a uniquely serene and joyous face.
Or at least that's what I thought until I met the nun sitting outside River's Edge after the talk. Her face was even more radiant, if that could be at all possible. She was holding two bags of recently -gifted popcorn and I asked if I could take her picture. She obliged and, afterwards I sat and we talked for about a half hour. She's 88, and had been a teacher for well over 40 years. Everything from K-12, with a stint at St. Joseph's Academy as a math and science teacher. We talked about travel, about holy spaces, about various parishes in Cleveland. Mostly, I just payed attention to the way Sister greeted every person who walked through the door. "Hello, sweetheart. It's so good to see you."
I do not know what it is between me and God. Why I keep writing and thinking about God, why I am pulled. Years ago, it would have been easy to answer that question: because I was at war. But now? How does this quest serve me or serve God? Wouldn't it be better if I were like any of the three people I met today?
Doing work, like Patrick is, speaking with inmates and those released from prison so that they are supported in their desire to live whole lives? Not his work, but my work?
Praying and meditating like Rinpoche? Studying the sacred texts? Or simply being more gracious and loving with every exchange like Sister? What, I wonder, is derived from this storytelling and meandering?
I will let that question rest, and simply end by saying, it was an extraordinary Sunday. Not only for the three people I met, but for the three faces of God I saw. God, it seems, can show up as an ex-con. God can show up as a monk from Nepal. God can even show up as an 88 year-old woman, sitting in a wheelchair, excited about popcorn. Someone who says, then winks, "I hope I didn't break your camera with my good looks." And ends by waving, "Bye now, sweetheart, it's been so good being with you."