The Lion and the Mosquito
by Rich Pozdol, IVC alumnus
Father “Bo” T.M. Lyons, spiritual director extraordinaire, and I were having a traditional Friday night fish fry at Steve’s , an old-fashioned corner tavern. We were both having the seafood platter with shrimp, scallops, frog legs and, my favorite, lake perch.
Father “Bo” asked, “Do you remember a book by the name of Mr. Blue?
I replied, “I do. I read it as a teenager, so very many years ago. I remember loving the character Mr. Blue.”
“I have been rereading the book” said Fr. “Bo”. “What did you like about Mr. Blue?”
“Well, as a teenager I liked someone who did his own thing. Blue was different. Anyone who lived in a packing crate on the roof of a tall building was an intriguing character. He flew kites from that roof and released balloons to celebrate any occasion.”
“Think back,” said Fr. “Bo”. “Who did he remind you of?”
I thought for a while and then it came to me. “Saint Francis of Assisi. Yes, Blue was a modern-day St. Francis.”
“Quite so,” said Fr. “Bo”. “Listen to this quote from the book when Blue is challenging the narrator’s status as a Christian. ‘I suppose you consider the exhortation “love your neighbor” as a figure of speech. You would love only the lovable. Did you ever try to love someone who was mean, petty, shallow, selfish? Try it.’
The narrator responded to Blue, telling him that he was willing to try to love a villain, but that he could not arouse any affection for a mere annoyance, an irremediable nobody. ‘I think I could love a lion,’ the narrator said, ‘but I doubt very much if I could love a mosquito.’”
I laughed and responded, “I know God cannot make a mistake, but if He could I have always said that the one mistake God clearly made was creating the mosquito.”
Fr. “Bo” responded, “Myles Connolly wrote Mr. Blue three years after Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby to provide a counterpoint to the materialism of Gatsby. For me, Blue raises the question of my calling today. He echoes so well what Pope Francis is asking us to do…to go out to the margins, to love the mosquito.”
“Yes,” I responded. “I think we IVCers have tapped into Mr. Blue’s spirit. So many irremediable nobodies to the world’s way of thinking. And yet, we have come to know them as members of the body of Christ.”
A Prayer for Compassion
Oh God, I wish from now on to be the first to become conscious of all that the world loves, pursues, and suffers;
I want to be the first to seek, to sympathize, and to suffer; the first to unfold and sacrifice myself,
to become more widely human and more nobly of the earth than any of the world’s servants.
Pierre Teilhard De Chardin, S.J.
The Courage of Spring
by Mark Avery, IVC Volunteer
“All the buried seeds crack open in the dark, the instant they surrender to a process they cannot see.” (Book of Awakening, by Mark Nepo, 2000). Recently, that quote has challenged me to reflection and action which has moved me to grow in new and different ways. There are “buried seeds” in each of our hearts that hold possibilities and invitations to think differently; to respond to needs in our cities, neighborhoods, on our borders and across the oceans. This process of introspection may also be helpful in our various IVC ministries as we serve and accompany those persons we are privileged to serve. In all of these examples, we respond to the cries of the earth and the universe.
Poet Mary Oliver, who passed away earlier this year, loved the world and its various creatures;she saw our world with the eyes of her being and her heart. In her poem, “Spring,” she writes: “There is only one question: “How to love this world?” Perhaps that is just the question that prompts one of those “buried seeds” in our hearts to crack open and to bud! It may be an opportunity to accept the nudge of grace, to be open for the seeds, of who knows what possibilities still lying buried in my heart, and to surrender to the process?
“How to love this world?” is both a gift and a challenge. Perhaps this Lenten season, and the approaching spring, will give us opportunities to meet Jesus alive in those we serve. It may also occur with the opening of a bud, and the first sight of the morning sun. We pray for slow, steady growth and continued unfolding.
What gifts and challenges do you perceive in the coming of spring? May we have the courage that spring offers!
The Challenges and Rewards of Service
by Mike Reidy, IVC Volunteer
Since I have been volunteering at Cristo Rey St. Martin in Waukegan, I have found it both challenging and rewarding.
It takes a lot of time and dedication to provide the guidance and administrative support to prepare these kids for success. Each kid has their own set of skills and needs, and it takes a while to develop a good guidance plan. Along with a good guidance plan, accurate record keeping is essential to provide them with grades that identify and reward behaviors that will help them be successful in work and in school.
I am also impressed by the how the academic and work study staff do their jobs in a way that will help these kids. I believe most of the kids realize that they have an opportunity to prepare themselves for a better career than their parents and that they have that opportunity because of the generosity and dedication of others.
I am trying to apply the principles that we teach these kids to my life. Just because I am an adult with years of experience and education does not make me a finished product. I believe I have grown as a person in the process of trying to help others grow.
See the archives for more reflections.