That was the headline in this Sunday’s newspaper–“Amazing Grace” with a picture of Pope Francis beneath it.
I know I haven’t posted in awhile and I’m so sorry. Many of you know the grind of my schedule over the last year with my organization being acquired by a larger one. Some of it was my schedule. Some of it was my exhaustion. Some of it was writer’s block and just plain not being motivated to post. But, when I noticed that headline at the same time I watched Pope Francis on TV minister to prisoners outside of Philadelphia, well…let’s just say I was finally inspired out of my funk.
I’m not Catholic…never have been even though I’ve been to my share of Catholic masses over the years with friends. I haven’t really even followed this Pope since he was named a little over two years ago. I was only vaguely interested in his scheduled trip to America. I didn’t really think it would have much impact on me.
For some reason, though, I started to tune in. I started to follow the news coverage when he arrived in DC. I read his speech to the joint houses of Congress. I watched with awe when he arrived in New York City and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Finally, I tuned in Sunday and watched most of the day as he worked his magic in the City of Brotherly Love.
I used to think Pope John Paul II was a pretty cool dude…but this Pope…WOW! I found myself inspired by his simple message of love. He seems to teach from the heart like Jesus teaches. He didn’t shy away from the tough messages but he delivered them from a foundation of love–love of this earth, love of our neighbors, love of God, love of each other. The aura of compassion and grace that emanates from this man is palpable.
Yes, I know he’s the Pope…but he’s different than any of the ones I’ve witnessed before. His humility, his kindness, his approachability, his “please pray for me,” make this man–I don’t know–just unconventional. I read and later saw the story of the Keating’s from Elverson, PA and I wept. For those who aren’t familiar, Pope Francis spotted the Keating’s young son, Michael, who suffers from a severe form of cerebral palsy, as the Pope’s Fiat drove away from his plane upon landing in Philadelphia. Ordering the car to stop, the Pope got out walked over to the boy, put his hand on his head and kissed him as his sobbing mother looked on. Mush. I just turned to mush.
What a role model. What an inspiration. I found myself looking at people differently. This little voice in my head kept saying as I came across people over the weekend, “The Pope loves you and that means God loves you, and therefore I love you.” My heart was filled with mercy and compassion. Things didn’t feel black or white and my tolerance and patience levels soared. It was grace at work within me.
OK….now how do I keep that feeling of grace in place? How do I transform to that being my default approach and not something that comes along as seldom as our recent “blood moon?”
Any and all ideas are welcome!