“In the designs of Providence, there are no mere coincidences”
Pope John Paul II
(a two legged okra? / Julie Cook / 2017)
Tuesday I spent the day doing something that needed doing.
It needed doing ages ago.
I pulled out two step ladders along with a box of dusting clothes and proceeded
to take everything off my bookshelves—
These bookshelves were builtin cabinetry, on either side of the fireplace,
and it was the thing about the house that I loved most when we moved in
20 years ago…
Because I always wanted a place to properly put my books.
And did I mention my book collection, within that twenty year time, has
But it wasn’t just books that had since found homes on the shelves.
Maybe it’s the art teacher in me but these where mini display shelves of
design and creativity….they held my “treasures” from trips,
they held memories.
However to the causal observer, I feared, they held chaos.
Hopefully organized chaos, but chaos none the less.
And as I age, I think I’m finally understanding…less is more.
I took down every last book, picture, knick knack, souvenir, treasure…
emptying all shelves as if preparing to pack up, box up and move…
which mind you I do consider constantly as I hear the ocean often call
my name..but then I’ll hear the mountains call out as well…
so to keep things quiet…
I just ignore them and stay put….
I climbed up and down, balancing precariously on the cabinet edge, in order to get
everything moved, off and down.
I next proceeded to dust.
Finally I had a clean slate.
I spent the remainder of the day sorting.
What should be boxed for Goodwill.
What should be boxed and stored.
What should be moved elsewhere.
What should be allowed to stay.
We had brought back 9 very old decoy ducks that had been Martha’s.
Beautifully old decoys of various species, sizes, shapes, ages and colors…
with one being a giant rustic fish and one being a giant sitting turkey hen.
All now having come home to roost with the 4 I already had.
My flock of 4 sits on the fireplace—
what would I now do with Martha’s flock of 9???
It all started for me when I inherited my grandmother’s very old wood carved decoy
of a male canvas back duck named Henry…Henry is now nearing 100.
In her last years of life, as the dementia set in, Mimi named the decoy Henry
and he sat at the foot of the bed as if it were a pet…and I believe
in Mimi’s mind, Henry was real and was indeed her pet….
Eventually I decided to strategically place the decoys up on my shelves—
sitting a couple on top of books, while others were flanked by a few books.
I threw in few antique plates, a framed photo or two…
Poked and placed until I got something that I think to be tastefully presentable…
rather than stuffed to the gills full.
But all of this rearranging is not the point of this post.
Nor are the ducks or books or dust or junk…
As I was sorting through the wealth of books that I’ve acquired over the years–
with the bulk being based on Christianity, the Saints, Monasticism, Prayer,
the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church, European history and lots of Art history…
one little book literally fell out amongst the hoard…
resting at my feet on the floor.
Most of my books are hardback, some are large and lovely, some are old and rare..
but this little paperback book simply seemed to fall out of nowhere….
It’s a book I remember ordering years ago.
There Are No Accidents
In All Things Trust God
by Fr Benedict J. Groeschel, C.F.R
with John Bishop
I remember that I never finished reading the book for whatever reason,
which I do remember starting while I was still teaching.
Time then was never on my side…not that it is now,
but these days I try to be more diligent with both my time and reading.
The book is based on an interview with Fr. Benedict..
as he was known by his first name and not his last.
He was a Franciscan monk, teacher and retreat leader who died in 2014.
He was also a monk who was hit by a car while crossing the street at the
busy Orlando Airport in 2004.
His survival was very questionable.
He was an older gentleman who sustained some very serious injuries.
Both broken bones and severe head trauma.
There were surgeries, long stints in ICU, ventilators, physical therapy….
He never walked again without assistance nor could he raise his right arm
but yet he survived and he persevered.
For he had a mission.
And that was to continue sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.
The doctors warned that if he lived, he’d never talk again,
never think again as he most likely would be severely brain damaged.
They also said he wouldn’t walk let alone dance…
but he was ok with not dancing
because he never liked to dance anyway.
I’m beginning the book anew.
For I too believe there are no accidents—
for behind every accident, every incident, be they minor or devastating…
it is there our Omnipotent God resides…
There are blessings to be wrestled over but we do not like nor do we
want to wrestle.
And therein lies our challenge…
our challenge to comprehend, to sort and to accept.
We stand as a lost child feeling overwhelmed and frozen by fear, pain
sorrow, horror, devastation, disbelief, greif.
Our thoughts, our faith, our being… rocked all to the foundation,
as we are left to rile with unbridled anger.
Because this God of ours is not reacting…
this God of ours is not playing the role…
this God of our is not doing things the way we would have Him do…
and therefore we decide we don’t need, don’t want, don’t like this God
as we assume ourselves to be the better god….
And there rests our trouble….
“There are no accidents.
Evil things occur because of bad will or stupidity or fatigue,
yet whatever the cause, God will bring good out of it if we let Him”
“even when we do not choose evil, we choose the good so half heartedly
and with so many qualifications that mediocrity becomes our canonized statis quo.”