I like straight corners.
If I am standing at the counter of a bank, I stand there straightening the piles of various forms.
I wonder if people wonder at what I am doing.
But I do it nonetheless.
And the other day I found myself wanting to straighten the corners of my spirituality. Specifically my relationship with the rest of the world that I live in.
This is because I go through life feeling like I run into skewed corners all the time, all over the place, but do nothing about it.
One place it shows up is around the phrase, When I came to Jesus.
It’s like a club of people. And when that phrase is uttered, they grin at each other.
Like new mothers who have discovered that they will not kill their first child from neglect. I can do it! they beam at one another.
It’s like that.
When I came to Jesus.
Not that long ago I had to complete a form, and while not remembering exactly at this moment one question that I had to answer, it was, basically, What date did you come to Jesus?
So I put down my birth date.
September 16, 1952.
But the word, came, still rubbed up against me. It was a corner that I wanted to straighten.
I never came to Jesus.
Jesus never came to me.
And for those two things, among others, I feel alone in the world.
And I know that, technically, I am not alone in the world. That there have been others, like Hildegard of Bingen, who were born into their Godliness.
Born into the light at birth.
Not after a particularly rough patch in life.
Not after a soul-inspiring retreat.
Not after an encounter with a stranger who said that right thing that opened the door.
But the matter of my birth distinguishes me in a certain way.
A way that leaves my spiritual corners not lined up with others’.
When did YOU come to Jesus, Julia? When were you born again?
Jesus commands that we all be born again.
But where can I go to find such a birth canal?
I’m the child in a wheelchair who has to sit on the sidelines and watch the other children run up and down the field trying their best to get the ball into the net.
I’m the one in the room that doesn’t get to say, Hallelujah, Praise Jesus, I’ve been saved! Thank you, Lord!
But that’s not the only barrier that I constantly run into when I’m in a room with other Christians.
There’s the whole problem of knowledge.
That even as a child, before I had even played with the math puzzles in trigonometry, I was studying the different expressions of time.
Even though we think we only experience just one form of time: second-after-second, time ticking away in precise measurements, we actually go through other, more bendy, forms of time.
This was my afternoon pleasure.
Learning about God and the universe.
As a seven-year-old.
Fast-forward to being an adult and try opening my mouth to talk about all these wondrous things that I have learned and studied and studied some more and all I am left with is the knowledge that, on Earth, I walk alone.
I walk alone.
It’s oppressive, really.
Sometimes I have dreamt about being in that field with God and coming across someone else there, too. Someone I can sit and talk to. Laugh with. Sit in silence with.
But I always wake up.
To this world.
Where the silence is my silence.
Yesterday, I began a new focus for my morning contemplative prayer.
Each day I am taking one word from the Lord’s Prayer, first the first word; second, the second; and so on, and making that the heart of my lectio divina.
Yesterday, not surprisingly, the word was our.
And I found myself feeling like that word was a clamp of metal teeth crushing me.
The world as our. Which it is.
The world is our.
The nurse who sits at the bedside of a sick person, stroking her hand, talking softly to her.
Part of our.
The mother who refuses to see the bruises on her child when she picks him up from daycare.
Part of our.
The neighbor who will do anything he can to help out in times of need.
Part of our.
The wolfman who smiles to himself when he lures another child from the path home.
Part of our.
We are all in the world. All with our own particular circumstances and measurements.
We are all part of our.
All those priests who, through my life, have yelled at me to Shut Up! and worse, are all part of our.
Whether I like it or not.
The people who have quietly turned away from me.
All part of our.
The our that begins the Lord’s Prayer encircles the Earth. It leaves no bit of Earth unincluded.
We are all in.
In the prayer that brings us all together.
Whether we want to be or not.
It’s done for us.
I may have led a most singular life, and have assignments from God that are like no one else’s, even I am part of God’s our.
Though it may not feel that way at all.
This our takes me away from my world of straightening corners.
Of comprehending how things work.
Finding precision in God’s glory.
When it really is just light and shadow.
The most profound mystery of all: