Saturday of the Second Week


SIR 48: 1-4, 9-11

MT 17: 9A, 10-13


I find imaginative prayer-reading scripture and setting myself into the scene-to be deeply moving. I find myself taking on different roles, perspectives, and views of the scene. Sometimes I view what is unfolding through the eyes of an individual in the scene and others I am more of a fly on the wall.

Let me set the scene for Matthew 17:9-13 – We are hiking down the mountain following a deeply impactful cosmic interaction. We have been walking for a while in silence as I am trying to make sense of what I just witnessed. We take a quick break and I am sitting against a rock amongst my closest friends, I find myself looking up to Jesus who is caught in thought, pacing. The rascal, he is always on the move, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. How does he do it? 

Someone to my right asked of Elijah. Jesus’ response so pointed, names that Elijah (John the Baptist) was not well received and suffered death at the hands of the people and foreshadows what is to come for him.   

I immediately feel guilt-the pang of guilt that sits heavy on my chest. Guilt knowing that someone I love and cherish so deeply will be overlooked, punished, deemed an outcast, and suffer when I know in my heart that this person is loving and caring on a level I have not experienced before. And I am just walking alongside him, not going to be able to stop whatever is coming his way. This man, Jesus, turns tables, calls attention to the injustices of society and encourages others to be part of the movements of justice and love. He will be punished for being countercultural. He gives so much of himself and is so quiet about his own struggles. I have to breathe deeply through the guilt.

But then I find myself a bit confused. Jesus so calmly speaks of his own impending death. How? How can this man be so calm?! He, like other prophets before him are so misunderstood, and it is because of this misunderstanding that they suffer in their life. Why isn’t he terrified, angry, sad? I have to breathe deeply through this confusion.

And through the deep breathing, I find a new sense of calm. I would have never imagined embarking on this journey ever in my lifetime and yet here I am. Some things are so profound in life that I cannot understand them in the moment. I cannot understand what my friend is experiencing. I cannot fully appreciate all the complexities involved in being countercultural, in responding to societal structures at such a passionate level that one is willing to lay down their life. But I am here, sitting amongst my friends, taking a rest to breathe while hiking down this mountain, knowing that I am playing a small part in a larger movement. In this moment, I am accompanying someone I love as they are sparking change. I will go on and share what I have seen, bearing witness to the life of a changemaker, and encouraging others to be countercultural in what ways they can. 

So I breathe deeply. I lean into the movements of my heart, my mind, my spirit. I don’t always understand the movements but breathing into them helps. Breathing opens up my heart, my mind, and my spirit. As we close out the semester, it is easy to get caught up in the stress, the looming deadlines, the fear and joys that come with closing a chapter as we prepare for the next. But I know that when I pause to breathe and reflect on my support network, all that we were able to accomplish in the last few months, and remind myself of where the various stresses of this time are taking me-closer and closer to my purpose, my own small ways of being countercultural, my own ways of giving to society-I find an openness to what is to come. I find a sense of calm. I find myself renewed and ready for what is to come. I breathe deeply.

As we prepare to walk alongside Jesus’ life, a profoundly human and yet divine life- a lifetime of experiences, lessons learned, lessons shared, and love to model – jam packed into a liturgical calendar; I breathe deeply to open my heart, my mind, and my spirit to ready myself to bear witness to the life of Jesus in my own life. I breathe deeply. 

So I ask – have you paused to breathe today? 

Sabrina Nelson
Assistant Director, Residential Education