The Price I Pay Gladly

Let me start off by saying, “this ain’t my first rodeo.”

However, if it were an actual rodeo, then it would be my first.

This isn’t to say my time here hasn’t been like a rodeo. Between Roping (materials), wrestling (tough questions), riding (to near and far campuses), and corralling (large and small group activities), I shouldn’t be surprised to find myself tired at the end of each day. There is a comfort to all this, you don’t go to a rodeo, let alone participate in one, if it ain’t something you love. Recall, “this ain’t my first rodeo,” so there’s gotta be something to it that keeps bringing me back.

I’ll be honest, the reasons are many, and most escape me because I can’t quite grasp the profundity of those external forces that have brought me to the here and now. So great and vast are the dominoes that have rendered my existence, that the best I can do is recognize that greatness when I see it, give thanks for the moment because it, like all things in this wonderful piece of existence, does not last.

There is a second effect, something more tangible, something simpler, and easier to realize. It is the pain of loss, but not the pain associate to death. It is a pain associated with a giving of ones self, the outpouring of our spirits. It is a fragment of us that we share hopefully with others that we can never give back.  It is something I refer to now as “The Hero’s sacrifice”. It goes:

There are many stories where some brave hero decides to give their life to save the day. And because of their sacrifice the good guys win, the survivors all cheer,and everyone lives happily ever after. But the hero…never gets to see that ending. They’ll never know if their sacrifice actually made a difference. They’ll never know if the day was really saved. In the end…they just have to have faith.

– Leonard L. “Epsilon” Church

It is sacrifice I draw your attention to, not heroism. It is the time and energy, the mentioned and unspoken parts of me given up for once nameless, nonexistent individuals. To walk with strangers for a couple of days only to realize at the end of it we are saying goodbye to people we’ve known and loved our whole lives. It isn’t about whether we are depraved of thanks or inundated with them, nor does it concern how the recipients of our energy are the ones who renew us.

There is just simply a feeling I can never quite shake, and questions I have come to accept will never be answered. It all has to do with hero’s SACRIFICE. Have I made a difference? Did I accomplish anything? Was what I gave enough? These questions do not enslave me, nor do they rob me of rest, but they visit me in good company and are welcome at my table. I receive these questions in good standing because they help me stand on a level with God that is far more real than my very church visits, and humble mystical experiences.

I feel empathy towards being the sower in the field. Of tasting first hand the fear of seeds falling on anything less than fertile ground. But how could I ever know those of whom would profit? Who among the countless will not gain? For this reason I can not burden myself to worry, but this does not invite ignoring an acknowledgment.

I understand that this may be an opportunity to practice my faith. To trust in a process, to put in God’s hands my effort, not necessarily my result, and to work according to God’s time and not mine. Yet I have moments, in my times of weakness, when I am forced to face a harrowing question, “am I ever enough?”

The simple answer is, “No”.

The more complex, theological question is, “No, but God is”.

With this in mind, I will commit myself to face each new day and challenge; welcome each new retreat and retreatant; pull myself up by those worn boots and dirty gloves, grab fast that rope, and ride hard my own insecurities and doubts. Because I could never judge the seeds, nor the ground upon which they fall, nor the environment that receives them. How could I? Never in a million years will I be able to understand the impact I will have, if there is one to be had. I can only be steadfast in my own efforts, and for now that will be enough.

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Jose Paris

If you ask Jose what he does in life he’ll answer, “mental engineer”. Jose is a graduate of Theology and Philosophy from the Jesuit College Spring Hill and loves to write, play outside, and shred on his ukulele. He has been a part of youth ministry since high school and has even held a directorship position in the Archdiocese of Atlanta. He is an avid learner, attentive listener, but mostly a chill guy. When he is not reading a good book, or cooking a delicious meal, you’ll find him kicking back with friends.

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