A couple of weeks ago, a memorial Mass for Michael was held here in Birmingham at the Cathedral. The bishop presided and offered a very nice, even charming homily in which he first focused on the Scripture readings of the day, and then turned to Michael, whom he remembered, among other things, as one who […]
There is much going on and, you will not be surprised to know, a great deal of thought and emotion and prayer.
In the past two and a half weeks, I have filled two Muji notebooks and should be completely dehydrated from fluid loss at this point. I could write ten blog posts a day but that would be self-indulgent, and I think we all benefit more when this is a bit filtered. For example, if I had blogged the story below right after it happened, it would only have been half the story, as it turns out. Perhaps less than half.
I am still operating at a level of unreality. The whole thing still seems absurd and not right. But perhaps that is because death is absurd and not right, which is the point of Jesus making it right.
Last Tuesday, a memorial Mass in Michael’s honor took place at the Cathedral here. It was very nice, with lots of people in attendance – and remember Michael had only been here since June. He had made an impression.
It was also infused with that air of unreality for me. As in, I sat there through most of it thinking, Why am in the Cathedral in Birmingham, Alabama, listening to people say nice things about Michael who can’t be, but apparently is dead?
The bishop preached a homily that was substantive, Scripture-centered, focused and, I might dare to say, charming because in that homily he gave Michael due and affectionate credit for keeping him on track, reminding him to keep his preaching substantive, Scripture-centered and focused.
After Mass, after the reception, a person who had been attendance asked to see me. He had something he needed to tell me.
He told me he had a message for me, and that he was certain this message was from God, for it had come to him during prayer, unbidden, out of the blue.
I gripped the desk. For this was truly a Michael moment. Michael who was fascinated by mysticism, who had taught discernment of spirits, who had interviewed purported visionaries on behalf of the Church, who could reel off a list of his own experiences of the transparency between here and eternity.
“Tell Amy,” this person said, “that Michael is watching out for her and that he says the answer is ‘yes.’ ”
He threw up his hands, as if to say, And so it is. I’m just the messenger. He repeated it. “That’s the message.”
The answer is yes.
But what was the question?
I pondered this, but tried not to overthink it. I tried to open myself to let the question be raised without too much input from me.
At first, I thought it was one thing – that came to me fairly quickly. Then a couple of days later, I thought it might be another.
Then today, we were sitting at Mass, and the second reading was proclaimed:
I swear by God’s truth, there is no Yes and No about what we say to you. The Son of God, the Christ Jesus that we proclaimed among you – I mean Silvanus and Timothy and I – was never Yes and No: with him it was always Yes, and however many the promises God made, the Yes to them all is in him.
I understood. I think I understood, for I can never be too definite about these things. But the conviction swept over me, and along with it, peace.
Michael knew me, and one of the things he knew about me was about my natural tendency to skepticism and my struggle with doubt. He knew that, for example, this is one of the reasons I am so affected by the work of Pope Benedict. His work reflects a familiarity with doubt.
Lord help my unbelief.
It was sort of a joke between us – him calling me to task for my skepticism, for my overthinking. A skepticism which is not a desire that these things be false or a seeking to disprove, but a yearning for definitiveness, for the experience of certainty that touches more than my intellect. I have experienced this certainty at times – rare times – but I will freely admit that while I actually find the intellectual claims of theism and Christianity convincing, something always still nags. A hunger, I suppose, for a full embrace of Love.
And the answer is yes.
You may discount it if you wish. Feel free. I hesitate to even write this, but not too much. I will not overexplain, but the way everything about these experiences almost three weeks ago now, last week and today knit together, I am certain what the question is. It is my question. My essential question, which Michael knows very well.
And he says that the answer is Yes.