Waste Management

There’s a “Nastiness Law” still on the books in Old Town, Edinburgh. Today it’s a charming city that reeks of history, but it used to reek of something much more…human. With tenement buildings that stretched upwards sometimes 14 stories, it was a densely populated city with urban challenges in the 18th century. One of them was waste removal. There was no indoor plumbing or, for that matter, running water. Most households lived off of two gallons of water a day, used primarily for cooking purposes. In our moments of private need we head into a comfortable bathroom with locking doors. For Edinburgh residents in the 1700’s those needs were met in a corner of the home where a communal chamber pot held a day’s worth of waste. It was the daily dumping that became a problem in this crowded hub of humanity. People on the eighth floor were certainly not going to carry a sloshing bucket down endless flights of stairs to politely dispose of their household waste in a secluded spot. It was much easier and appealingly anonymous to toss the contents of the chamber pot out of the window onto the street below. It doesn’t take much imagination to understand how this might play out poorly. In a city known for its cultural opportunities, a lovely lady might be walking down the Royal Mile with her beau only to find their outing abruptly ended with a fecal fling from above. Lord, have mercy!

Proper waste removal is an issue. The response of the Edinburgh politicians was the Nastiness Law of 1749. This stated that one could not dump the contents of their chamber pots out the windows before 10PM and after 7AM. Even during those appointed hours, the “dumpers” were required to cry out a French warning: “Gardez l’eau!” This meant “Watch for water.” It became anglicized into a more Scottish-sounding phrase, “Gardy-loo!” Not unlike hearing the words, “Timber!” on a walk through the woods, passers-by knew to run for cover if they heard this cry. Of course, Edinburgh has boasted fine whisky served in countless pubs for generations. Much of that drinking happened in the hours of legal dumping . So one has to imagine that the risk of a disgusting dousing increased significantly for those stumbling home in the wee hours of the morning along the darkened streets of the city. I guess some risks were worth taking? You’ll be relieved to know that the Nastiness Law is still in effect so, if you’re strolling the Royal Mile when on holiday in Edinburgh, just be sure to be in by 10PM!

The Nastiness Law of 1749 was a forerunner to future legislation regarding proper waste disposal. The rights of residents were considered in the face of undesirable human and industrial by-products. In our neighborhood we’ve experienced the consequences from toxic dumping. A local shoe factory started depositing their waste products in various sites around town starting in the 1950s. The laws were much different then and allowed for legal dumping in specific sites which, at that time, were rural. But it also happened in places that were not authorized. Farmers were paid to have the factory waste dumped in their fields with the assurance that it would boost their harvest. In fact, the sludge was teeming with PFAS, a toxin that has polluted our wells and crops, rivers and sea life. We are seeing cancer clusters and other health problems in those affected areas because of dumpsites that were chosen more than 60 years ago. The suspicion that it was not good for humans led to a general cover up effort in the last decade or more. We and other households have had full-house water filtration systems installed in our homes, paid for by the company. We also have Culligan water bottles delivered monthly at their expense. But we live with the concern that our health in the future may be compromised in unknown ways because of the past. One neighbor died from cancer in a home where the water levels tested extraordinarily high for PFAS. I contracted cancer nine years after moving into this “House Street Dump” neighborhood. I assumed my diagnosis was due to genetics and not environmental threats. Now it makes me wonder. I also fear for my children’s health as they stretch into adulthood. Waste disposal has certainly faced new and stricter legislation since the 1950s. The water crisis in our area (which is being dealt with much more effectively than it is for the beleaguered residents in Flint, Michigan) has awakened our community and our state to corporate responsibility toward those who have been adversely affected by their waste disposal choices. Whether dumped flagrantly on our heads or invisibly poisoning our water, proper waste management has become a crucial issue for our modern, industrial world.

Dumping off toxic stuff is crucial in the spiritual realm as well. Quite often we start off a worship service with a prayer of confession. Before we can really have a good conversation with someone, we need to be truthful about the ways we have hurt them. Only after we come clean can we give true expression of our love. So we kick off our worship with an acknowledgement that we have failed to live the faith as we had hoped. God doesn’t need that apology but knows that we do! This becomes the model for our interaction with one another. Admitting to someone that we hurt them and apologizing sincerely for it is cleansing both ways. If someone has done us harm we ask God to help us let go of the anger or hurt, even if they haven’t asked for forgiveness. It’s too great a burden for us to live with the wounds that someone else inflicted upon us. So God helps us to leave it behind so that we can move forward unencumbered. As Christians we spiritually take out the trash regularly so that there’s not a pile of rotting grudges eating away at our productivity and robbing us of joy.

December 2 is the First Sunday in Advent. We start with a new year in the Christian calendar. As our culture catapults into a frenzied race toward the picture-perfect celebration of Christmas, our wise ancestors in the faith urge us to prepare for the birth of Christ by taking out the trash. Just as we make room for Christmas decorations by getting rid of accumulated stuff, so we do this in our personal lives. We look for the experiences that are taking up emotional room and clouding our vision of God. Advent is a season when we are asked do a raw appraisal of the toxic bits of our history that we have harbored for too long. This isn’t easy and may be a very messy process. But we courageously take proactive steps to bring them out of hiding and into the healing light of Christ. Isn’t it great that we are invited to do this annually! Have you ever had to move out of a house after filling it with things for decades? It’s a nightmare! We wish that we had kept up with the necessary sorting and purging that we avoid when there’s yet another closet to fill or space under a bed to cram another box.

It’s a messy process and there’s no legislation for spiritual waste removal. It can’t be forced. But there’s an ongoing invitation from the Prince of Peace to let go of what harms so that we can find the joy in Christmas. Take out the trash—for Christ’s sake!


Imperfect Prayer

The Isle of Iona has been a Christian pilgrimage site for almost 1500 years. Columba, an Irish priest, sailed north in a longboat with 12 disciples to establish a monastery that would bring Jesus into this western edge of Scotland.

Adjoining the Iona Abbey that was built hundreds of years after his life is a shrine in his name. It is reputed to hold his remains although that is highly unlikely. Nonetheless this small chapel sits to the right of the main entrance to the abbey and invites the faithful wayfarers to step in for a time of reflection.

I was on my own for this part of my summer trip—intentionally. It was at the end of a month in Europe tracing my roots so I embraced the opportunity to have quiet time to begin to put the myriad pieces of my travels into place. I found myself, like others on the island, sitting and kneeling in lots of different places to pray. In New York City this kind of prayer posture could get you loaded on the back of a paddy wagon with health care officials awaiting your arrival. But on Iona folks are squatting for a prayer all over the place! I happily joined them.
So one afternoon I set my sights on the St. Columba’s Shrine as my prayer destination. You actually have to duck down to enter the sacred space. Once inside the ceiling stretches high with impressive beams that are rough-hewn and ancient. There are benches near a low altar that has a cross on it. With the purest of intentions I sat down to come into God’s presence. Before closing my eyes I looked around at this sacred space. It was windowless and made of stone. I considered how many pilgrims had sat in this same place and brought their lives into high resolution before God. I looked up at the roof structure and wondered who had put those beams together and how long ago. As I pondered these deep questions while looking heavenward, a bird swooped in through the tiny doorway and flew up to her nest on a beam just above my head.

“&@#+!”, I exclaimed out loud.

So much for holy conversation.

“Great!”, I thought to myself. I crawl into this prayer cave, following in the footsteps of so many ancestors in the faith, only to profane the space with my startled reaction to a barn swallow. Her babies greeted her arrival with excited chirps and satisfied gulps of masticated insects. I greeted her…in another language. Mea culpa.
“Lord, forgive.”

Prayer is challenging. Distractions are a given. The world cries out for our attention. We are list-lovers. We have continual to-do registers with individual items ranked as “Urgent”, “Today” and “At my leisure.” With the best of intentions we turn to our God only to find that we pull out a pen to cross something off our list triumphantly. “Oh yeah, I got that done today!” we cry. “Oh, sorry God.”

The designated prayer space in my home is deep in my closet. A foot stool that we use to reach the upper shelves of our ample wardrobes serves as my support. I sit on the floor and my elbows rest on the stool. On one of the lower shelves in front of me hangs a small metallic cross. Decades ago a young mom pressed this cross into my hand after worship. Her life was difficult. She and her husband had a combined four children—a “yours, mine and ours” family. They lived in a mobile home with perhaps 1300 square feet to shelter them from the Michigan winters. They both had a divorce behind them and worked at jobs with stubby career ladders. Their little red-headed girl, the “ours” of the family, came forward for the children’s message each Sunday and enthusiastically answered questions I asked as if only she and I were having a conversation. There was marital strain at some point and they disappeared from the church. But not before she pressed this cross into my hand as an unexpected and sacrificial gift from someone who had to watch every penny she spent.
So I think of her and her family when I sit in my prayer chapel. It gets me in touch with the challenges that so many people face and how blessed I am with my life circumstances. Even in this space, I get distracted. “Did I just hear my cell phone buzz?” I ask myself as I stumble for the words to address my God. The prospect of a human conversation seems so much easier than connecting with the God who parted the waters for Moses, knocked Paul off his high horse and sent St. Columba across the waters to establish a monastery in the land of my MacDougall ancestors. Each time I set out to pray with intentionality the tangible world I live in seems to cry out for my attention. It draws me away from the One who is always ready—yearning, in fact–to connect with me.
The best place for me to pray is in the car. I pray out loud. I cry. I sing. I push myself to think of who needs prayers and lift them up: name by name, circumstance by circumstance, household by household. And sometimes my mobile praying is interrupted by some goon who cuts in front of me with no blinker.

“Jerk!” I say out loud.
“Not you, God. Him! You saw what he did!”


Veterans Day

In our worship service today we spent some time with our veterans. Sitting securely in our 1870’s sanctuary, we traveled into the Battle of the Bulge through the words of one of our World War II vets. Bill served under General Patton and has clear memories of his tour of duty that he willingly shared with us. His father signed the papers for him to join the Army since he was only seventeen years old. He had hoped to be a part of the Marine Corps but the fact that he was colorblind ruled that out. It was explained to him that he would be unable to discern the presence of enemy troops dressed in camouflage. So the U.S. Army became his home base. A man in our church, Tim, interviewed him, asking him if he was ever afraid. “All the time,” he assured us. “Everyone was afraid all the time.” The only time he felt safe was when he was surrounded by countless tanks. But those moments were rare.

Each soldier was given a pocket Bible when they enlisted. He carried it with him and read it in the rare in-between moments. The 23rd Psalm brought comfort to him so he recited it often. We read it together in our worship, each person invited to either follow along in our pew Bible or recite it as they had learned it. The translation doesn’t matter much when we’re talking about God’s presence in the shadow of death. Bill was able to give us a glimpse into the darkness of war. But he also spoke of the light of faith that gave him hope when in the trenches. He remembered a time that all the troops were assembled for a prayer service before a battle surge. There were Jewish, Catholic and Protestant young men standing together to be blessed before battle. At that very moment the German attack planes flew overhead, threatening their security. It didn’t matter what God you prayed to at that moment, Bill assured us. They all dove for cover, intertwined for safety in protective spaces.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…”

Photo by Brenda Timmermans on

A little German boy approached their camp one day with two eggs. His family had chickens and he had come to trade what his chickens produced for chocolate! He knew that the soldiers had candy bars in their ration packs. “He wanted our candy bars,” Bill said with a smile. So they traded happily with the boy then cooked their eggs over a fire. Those were the best eggs he had ever tasted! So much so that he resolved at that moment that, if he made it home after the war, he would always have chickens. A couple of years ago Bill and his wife, Fran, sold their country home to move into a condo. Part of the sale agreement was the chickens that came along with the house! He honored that promise he made to himself as a young soldier as long as he was able.
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

Bill reminded us of why this war was fought with one of his memories. As they advanced into Germany they passed by the Buchenwald Concentration Camp. Bill’s gaze fell at this point in the interview and he grew very reflective. He and his infantry brothers saw the prisoners behind the fence and he found it hard to describe their condition. He didn’t need words because his distraught face said enough. The war against the hatred and atrocities of Hitler became real for us in our sanctuary. I was astounded to learn that the way out of Germany for Bill and other U.S. troops at the end of the war was in the same box cars that were used to transport packed carloads of Jews to the camps. “They smelled terrible,” he told us. “But we got in them and rode all the way across Germany to get home.”
At this point it became clear that I wasn’t going to make it through the service without tears. Bill’s ticket home required him and the troops to sit in the stench of death and hatred. The whole journey out of Germany they breathed the horror of the war. So many of the Jews who had been packed into those cars never had a ride home. God was present on those trains regardless of who rode as passenger. Whether traveling toward torturous death or the safety of home, God’s broken heart embraced all.
“Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

Bill made it home along with some of his comrades, no longer the innocent seventeen year old who needed a dad to sign for him. He locked his experiences into an inner space that not even he sought to access. God blessed him with a loving wife and she urged him to attend the reunions of his infantry division. In the presence of those who had shared those battles with him, he was able to open up and find healing. They bought a lovely home that sat on lush acreage, raising chickens and other animals. Their home was a safe haven for grandchildren and great grandchildren to find love. Bill maintained a pool that offered hours of fun for his grandkids. He made sure the chickens had grain. Over the years, as he reconnected with his military brothers, he was able to integrate his time of service into the present. Today Bill has a ready smile and an engaging presence. His stories touched all of us and made us realize how much we take for granted. My father was a career Chaplain in the Air Force so I gained appreciation for the pastoral care work that he offered the year he spent overseas without us. We invited the veterans in our congregation to come forward and they shook Bill’s hand with such respect. It’s a club that those of us on the outside will never fully understand. The word that came to me as we thanked these soldiers for their sacrifice was redemption. God redeems even the worst of our human ways. God restores us to safe places. For those who lose their lives in service of their country, God redeems them in an afterlife where there is “no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Rev. 21:4)

I wonder if we would know more Bible verses by heart if we had to walk into a war zone. That doesn’t have to be a military battle. Folks walk into war zones in American neighborhoods, houses of worship, public schools and family gatherings. Some people’s jobs take them into a war zone every day where they don’t feel safe. Looking in with horror at a massacre in a Jewish synagogue two weeks ago or a California night club this past week, we realize that our world is messed up and our safety always threatened. Maybe pocket-sized Bibles could offer us the reassurance that an entire police force or modern security system could not. Maybe our ultimate trust—in war and in daily life—must lie in something greater than our human systems; in someONE who rises above the fray. For this One will always bring us home.
“He makes my lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.”


All Hallows’ E’en

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”
So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.
The blind man said, “My teacher, let me see again.”
“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.          Mark 10:46-52

Blind Bartimaeus is the one, ironically, who got it! The sightless man is the one who saw who Jesus was. He knew that the man from Nazareth wasn’t just a gifted healer. Twice, in this short story, he cries out to Jesus as “Son of David.” Every good Jew knew that the long-awaited Messiah was to come from the lineage of David. So the man with the greatest handicap in town, a guy who was regularly sidelined by his superiors, shouted to get Jesus’ attention. He begged for MERCY.

close up photography of man s right eye
Photo by samer daboul on

Many times folks with handicapping conditions are viewed as an embarrassment to the townsfolk. The crowds who had come to catch a glimpse of this itinerant preacher tried to shut Bartimaeus down. “SHHHH!” But the stakes were too high so he kept yelling. When Jesus asked for him, the language of the text tells us of Bart’s excitement: “So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.” Few of us spring up even in the best of conditions! Bartimaeus acted from the heart. I imagine Jesus touching him to let him know that they were face-to-face. Jesus asked a simple question of the man who had so fervently sought to have an audience with Him: “What do you want me to do for you?” The answer came from the depths of his being, a prayer he must have repeated more times than he could remember. But now he was being asked to speak that prayer out loud—to the One he believed to be the Messiah. “My teacher, let me see again.” I love the tenderness in this response. “MY teacher.” Bartimaeus was not going to be cowed by the crowd into assuming that he wasn’t worthy of Christ’s attention. He belonged to Jesus as much as anyone. His faith in Jesus’ healing powers was apparent. In this encounter old Bart was perhaps the only one who truly worshiped Jesus. He already saw better than most. But Jesus gave him back his sight—the ability to take in the beauty of his world again. Notice what he did with his reclaimed vision? He followed Jesus on the way.
I can only imagine the conversations around dinner tables that night in Jericho!
Today is the 501st anniversary of Luther’s protest against the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church which launched the Church into The Reformation. It’s good for us to remember those forebears in the faith who responded to the radical call to discipleship. In sacrificial ways they cried out to Jesus for mercy and followed in the Way of Christ no matter the cost. We sit peacefully in our sanctuaries today because of their courageous response to Jesus’ invitation, “Follow Me.”

Just four days into our month-long trip in Europe this past summer, we ran into Reformation history in Paris. Our hotel was on Rue des Ecoles, meaning Street of Schools. We learned that we were walking along avenues where John Calvin had lived. My sabbatical summer was to be an immersion in my roots of DNA and Spirit. We hit up against our spiritual roots early in the trip and often! John Calvin was born in France in 1509. His dad had worked his way up from the family fishing industry and worked for the Bishop. All three of his sons were to be educated as Catholic Priests. John’s academic prowess was obvious from early on so his father sent him to Paris for an education. But these were times of great ferment and John was drawn into the reforming movement that challenged the theology and corruption of the Roman Catholic Church. His challenges to the Church became an embarrassment to his father as an employee of the Bishop so his father rerouted him to Law School. He not only absorbed his legal texts but also got involved in radical discussions about theology. He learned Koine Greek which would help him later to read and translate the New Testament. After his father’s death at age 22 (his mother had died when he was young) Calvin found his way back to Paris where he became deeply involved in the Reformation movement. He was believed to be the writer of a speech delivered by a faculty member which urged folks to resist the Catholic Church with these words: “I beg of you, who are here present, not to tolerate any longer these heresies and abuses.” The King of France and church officials were furious. So on November 2, 1533 at the age of 24, John Calvin lowered himself from a window of the Royal College, with a lifeline of bed sheets knotted together. Many of his colleagues, dear friends really, did not escape the wrath of church officials. They were burned at the stake for their heresy. This became a radicalizing moment for young John when he understood the intensity of the battle he was fighting. With even greater conviction, he carried the torch of faith forward on behalf of his murdered brothers.

John fled his homeland of France, heading for Strasbourg, a free city amidst the religious turmoil. But, on the way, he was sidelined because of a battle. (Did you ever have to take a detour because of a battle?!?) He took refuge in Geneva, thinking he would stay a night or two. But his reputation preceded him and he was drafted into the movement vigorously afoot in Geneva to work against the Roman Catholic Church. A trip inconvenience apparently was a Divine Appointment! He made it to Strasbourg several years later for a three-year stint, where he married a widow with two children. But the last 20 years of his life and career were spent in Geneva where he pastored a congregation while producing wildly for the Reformation movement. He preached 150 sermons a year. He wrote commentaries on 31 different books of the Bible while maintaining a full lecture schedule. He worked to protect the institution of family by urging the legal establishment of a curfew. This would cut down on drinking and absentee husbands. He labored to the detriment of his health to foster unity within a very chaotic and divided Church. He loved music and believed that singing the scriptures was one of the best ways to settle those sacred texts within our hearts. He hired a gifted musician to set all 150 Psalms to music and this Psalter became a central part of Protestant worship. We still have a copy of Garrett’s grandfather’s psalter that he used as a minister in the Christian Reformed Church, which claims Calvin as their denominational forebear.

Calvin insisted that we are shaped for “doxology”, for praise of our Creator. In his commentary on Psalm 117 he stated, “If on earth such praise of God does not come to pass, if God does not preserve His church to this end, then the whole order of nature will be thrown into confusion and creation will be annihilated when there is no people to call upon God.” So, while drastically changing the shape of the Church because of his beliefs, Calvin tried to live in faithful obedience to the radical call Christ placed upon him. At his insistence, when he died in 1564, he was buried in an unmarked grave to prevent mourners from wasting their energy worshiping him rather than his Maker.
And you thought navigating your life was challenging!!

Toward the end of my Nourishing Roots journey in Europe this summer I met up with another reformer, John Knox. On the Royal Mile of the Old Town of Edinburgh, a striking house stands out from the others: House in the Netherbow. It is the oldest home still standing and provided lodging for two men who stood on opposite sides of the Catholic/Protestant divide.

James Mossman was a goldsmith who made lovely jewelry for the royals of Scotland. He and his wife lived in this home from 1558 to 1572. They enjoyed a lavish life of material wealth and social esteem. But there are hints in the design of the home that assure us that security was a concern. A narrow staircase that winds between the floors has a seventh stair that is spaced differently than the others. The plan was that intruders, not expecting the difference in stair height, would trip on the stair and give away their presence. Not quite the security system of our day, it underscores that life was tense and fraught with danger! Mossman was a devout Catholic, allegiant to Mary, Queen of Scots. As the Protestant Reformers pressed down upon the city of Edinburgh, the jeweler and others who were branded “The Queen’s Men” holed up in the Edinburgh castle. They managed to hold their enemies at bay for three years. Eventually those fighting on the Protestant side overtook them and they were found guilty of treason. Stripped of all their worldly good, including Mossman’s lovely home, the men who had been loyal to their Queen were hanged, their heads posted on the castle wall.

Meanwhile, John Knox, who was born near Edinburgh, had been trained as a priest. He was a fiery orator who became a believer in the need for reform in his Church. He held his ground powerfully in public debates even against Queen Mary. This forced him to flee from his homeland for a time, his passion for reform putting him in mortal danger. He was held by the French Navy as a prisoner until 1549. Upon release, he found his way to the free city of Geneva, where he overlapped with Calvin, also in exile. Knox led an English-speaking congregation while Calvin pastored one that spoke French. In 1557 they produced an English translation of the Bible that could be used by laity. They used a more readable font than was typically used for printing religious texts. They used language that was more readily understood by common folks. It was a copy of this Geneva Bible that was carried across the ocean on the Mayflower to give the first North American colonists a Bible to read and follow.

Once the Protestants prevailed in Scotland, Knox was able to return home. He preached powerfully at St. Giles Cathedral which continues to dominate the striking city-scape of the Royal Mile. It was still a perilous time in which “smouldering discontents were set ablaze.” We can’t imagine the faith required to take a stand for a reformed interpretation of the Christian faith. Knox was nearing the end of his life and needed a place to live that was near the church. So he took up residence in the abandoned House in the Netherbow. There were two printing presses in operation in the basement of the home, mass-producing materials for The Church of Scotland, now Protestant instead of Catholic. The inscription over the door of the home, chosen by James Mossman and his bride as they moved into the home fourteen years earlier, was “Love God above all and your neighbor as yourself.” The two men who lived there were separated by their interpretation of the faith. But both certainly believed that they were honoring this Biblical commandment to love God and neighbor fully. Just three months after moving into the jeweler’s home, John Knox died, leaving as his legacy the establishment of what would become the Presbyterian denomination.
These were the men who saw beyond the features of this earthly world. They recognized Christ and, when He asked them what they wanted of Him, their request was humble. Help me to see you more clearly and I will follow in your Way. Like Bartimaeus, they didn’t waste time for themselves when Jesus showed up in miraculous ways. They hit the road, putting their very lives at risk, witnessing friends murdered for holding the same faith convictions that they did. They were exiled from their homelands but established “family” in the churches they served, churches that housed them at unexpected detours on the way.
The prophet Jeremiah ministered to a defeated people who had been exiled from their homeland and who were sure that God had abandoned them. In a passage from chapter 31 he speaks tenderly to his discouraged people. As a messenger for God he assured them that God would bring them home. It’s quite an image painted in our minds of the stream of refugees who would be brought back to their hometowns: the blind and the lame, those with the joy of anticipating a new baby and those actively delivering children who now had hope of a restored life. God had not forgotten them after all. They would soon be home.

As we stream into worship in our churches today, sipping our lattes and mentally scrolling through our endless to-do lists that assault us the minute we leave the church, we could easily forget the price that has been paid by our spiritual fathers and mothers. Countless martyrs lost their lives for speaking boldly about the changes they believed needed to be made to honor Christ as the Head of the Church. It makes me wonder, if I were to meet up with Christ this afternoon, what my answer would be if He asked me, “What do you want me to do for you?” Would I see beyond this earthly life to ask for the right gifts? Would I fix my gaze on Christ no matter the cost? I hope so. I pray so.