By Fr. Jim Cosgrove
Chaplain of Cornerstone of Hope and priest of the Cleveland Diocese, whose heart is on fire to serve Christ and His Church. He currently is serving Church of St. Clare in Mayfield as parochial vicar. “Stay His” is Fr. Jim’s common phrase to many as a reminder that ALL are always seen and loved in the eyes of our Heavenly Father.
I hate being rushed.
Granted, I have always been a king of procrastination, and I dare say some of my best work is done under pressure. But that’s because I decided to wait until the last minute. I signed up for that challenge. Others need not apply.
Yet, saints don’t seem to follow my rule. Thanks be to God.
Not too long ago I was vacationing with a few friends, and the hotel pool was offering a game. The victor would win a special prize. No further convincing was needed.
I got in line to compete against “The Magic Carpet.” It was a 50-feet long, blue raft that the hotel staff would wobble with reckless abandon. The object of the game was to traverse the waves and reach the opposite end, snatching a crown off the last staff member, and put it on without falling into the water — in under 20 seconds.
I watched others before me. I noted their mistakes. I was ready. It was my turn.
My waves seemed more reckless than the previous contestants’. The surrounding voices were louder, too. Pressure started to build as the clocked ticked, and I didn’t know how or when I would take even my first step. Then…
BAMWHOOSH! My buddy Kyle had run up from behind and pushed me with all of his weight. Physics took over, and I took my first step, then my next step, and I had to keep going. There was no turning back.
I do remember having a short fit of rage at Kyle in that moment. “This isn’t fair! Why would he do this? I’m not going to make it!” The next few seconds were a blur, but I do remember all of my frustration fading when I was awarded the prize.
Kyle is one of my best friends. He knows me. He can recognize my fears from a mile away. He also knew the only way I would make any movement before the clock ran out would be to give me a good shove. He was right. He knew I would be safe in the end, come what may. Granted, he may have wanted me to win just so he could share in the prize, which he did.
I was happy to share it.
We live in a culture that exalts self-sufficiency. True progress can’t be made, they say, unless we can make it on our own. If this philosophy is true, however, we’re in for a lonely life — one, I dare say, that leaves us on the edge of the waves forever. Why?
Because we were never meant to get it on our own. If true peace in heaven is the ultimate place we want to reach, why wouldn’t we trust the ones who have already made it there. For Christians, everyone who has been invited to heaven is a saint. These holy ones took their own steps out onto the waves. Some fell numerous times. By the grace of God, however, they now know the glory of the destination, and it is one that is best enjoyed when it is shared.
Our pain, our anger, and our grief can leave us frozen and afraid to take another step onto the waves. Maybe we don’t even want to. But we have friends in heaven who do. Of course, no one can force us to take that crown at the end of our journey. In fact, only God can give it. But He knows we need help getting there.
Every year on November 1, the Church celebrates the saints. They are gifts and reminders that peaceful waters and celebrations will come. They intercede for us constantly to tell us that we are never alone, especially in moments of trial. May we let them walk with us every wobbly step until we raise a glass with them in the Kingdom, to the One Who invites us to be saints for those who one day will approach water of their own.
Thanks be to God.