Looking Toward Jerusalem

It happens every Lent. We get to that place in the “big red book” and start singing a song that I have never managed to get through without choking up.

I have fixed my eyes on your hills,Jerusalem my
Though I can not see the end for me, I can not turn away.
We have set our hearts for the way; this journey is our destiny./ Let no one walk alone.The journey makes us one.
Other spirits, lesser gods, have courted me with
Here among you I have found a truth which bids me rise. *chorus*

To the tombs I went to mourn the hope I thought was gone,/ Here among you I awoke to unexpected dawn. *chorus*

I can’t listen to this song without thinking about the first time I ever heard it: as a candidateI poised at the edge, fearful of diving in to … what? Heresy? Ostracism? Liberation? I wasn’t sure … probably all of it. After nearly a year of study and reflection, I was still not 100% sure about leaping in to the Church with both feet. Something still held me back.

Several somethings, actually. My horrified parents. My spiritual ennui, complete with residual guilt over a number of personal choices. At the time, “Church Girl” had slidden far from grace, feeling cut off from every line of support I had ever known. In restrospect, I now realize that I was probably depressed. The only person, other than my sponsor, who would attend the confirmation would be an off-again, on-again romantic interest who (let’s be honest) was not someone I should have been with in the first place. Oh, and a woman who had reached out to me and offered me a job when I was this close to living on the street. Not my finest hour.

My sponsor suggested that I might want to wait another year. I knew this was not an option … Waiting wasn’t going to resolve anything … This was confirmed by the Filipino priest who heard (no saying how much he understood) my first confession. “You have a path. You need to follow it,” he told me. He also told me a story about a dog race and a rabbit, the point of which was that distractions could deter me only insofar as I let them.

So, I took a deep breath and leaped … And never looked back. Like the old song said, “I have decided to follow Jesus … no turning back, no turning back.” It’s the dangling your feet on the edge of the pool that will get you every time. Danglers never get anywhere. It’s the swimmers who discover the treasures hidden under the surface.

So if you’re looking toward Jerusalem, take heart and a deep breath. Then dive in —
Under the Mercy…

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