Mary Karr, an American poet and a Franciscan nun, did not know God until her adult years. Out of the blue her little son asked her to go to church. When she asked him, why he wanted to go to church, he replied, “To see if God is there.” Well, to make him happy, she, then, began church hopping—they visited all kinds of churches. Unbeknownst to her this became her spiritual journey.
You see, Mary was not only raised in an agnostic home, she also had a turbulent childhood, filled with mental illness, substance abuse, violence, and neglect. Later in life following the path of her father, a heavy drinker, she too became an alcoholic. And, like her parents she, too, grew up to be an agnostic—a life with no relation to God. Out of His grace, God used her little son to set her spiritual journey.
Mary Karr finally arrived at her destination when she met Father Joseph Cain. Not only did she embrace Christian faith and become a follower of Jesus, she, too, gave herself to a life of service. What did happen to her that caused this dramatic change? Interestingly it’s not theological or intellectual arguments; it’s a Christ-filled life she found in Father Cain whom she describes as, “incredibly humble.” Sister Mary sums it up with these words, “He lived his life as though whoever came in front of him was sent by Jesus.” What a witness!
When I read her words, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Have I lived my life as though whoever comes in front of me is sent by Jesus?” The answer is, “No, but I would like to.” I hope to remember these powerful words because these words have turned a broken and agnostic soul into a whole and Christ-filled life. But I also would like to apply these words to me personally, “Have I lived my life as though I am sent by Jesus to be in front of somebody?”