“Karma” for Catholics?

what dreams may comeToday on Facebook I vented a teeny bit — as obliquely as possible — about  someone who has been an unspeakable thorn in my side.

“What is the Catholic equivalent of karma?” I asked, tongue in cheek. Perhaps it would have been more accurate to ask, “… the English equivalent of schadenfreude,” but then my grasp of German is another sore subject.

In reality, I realize there is no such thing as karma. Divine intervention, absolutely. Natural consequences, sure. Grace beyond imagining, no question. The whole Julian of Norwich school of “And all will be well, and all will be well, and all will be most well.”

Sometimes, though, taking the high road requires superhuman virtue; staying on that road requires an actual infusion of grace. For example, several months  ago someone I thought of as a friend inexplicably betrayed me. We happen to run in similar social circles, and so putting her entirely out of mind (which is typically how I handle this kind of thing) wasn’t an option. My attempt to reconcile (by letter) was ignored. She went her way, I went mine, and each time her name came up, my stomach would tighten.

Forgiveness is a funny thing. It doesn’t always feel good, at least not right away. Sometimes it can feel like the other person “wins” unjustly. It can be hard to let go, yet the person who said, “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die” did have a point.

And so, I did the only thing I knew how to do: Took the high road, in baby steps. Unclenched my grasp, finger by finger, and tried to move on. “Bless her, Lord. Or at least, make me willing to bless her. Or at least, make me willing to be willing to forgive.”

Do I wish the whole thing would come to light, once and for all? There was a time when I did. But today a wise person reminded me: We can’t really know the full implications of our actions (or anyone else’s) in this life, and we won’t fully “get it” until we get to see the whole story from God’s point of view. Like in the movie What Dreams May Come (one of my favorite films), even the worst moments of our lives can turn out to be … something beautiful.

The things that are most painful, here and now, will likely look very different in heavenly light. And that is the ultimate grace, knowing that each day is one step closer to home … and lasting peace.

Bless them, God. Bless them all.



Space Mountain Schadenfreude: Road Trip Ruminations

If you want the full Disney World experience, it’s probably best to avoid the park entirely between Christmas and New Years. Sure, Magic Kingdom has “extended hours” (8 a.m. to 1 a.m.), but that just means you have to deal with a bajillion loud, pushy people for a full 18 hours instead of the usual 14.

Fortunately, my favorite rides are not the most popular … I can sit on the teacups and ride through “It’s a Small World” for hours. See?

small world 1 small world 2 small world 3

But eventually I had to relent, and go with the rest of the family to stand in line at Space Mountain. An hour of nail-biting anticipation (thank goodness for the FastPass), for nine minutes of pitch-dark, neck wrenching fun.

As I said, we had gotten a FastPass, which in theory meant that we could return at the appointed time, bypassing the main line and moving to the front of the queue. But when we arrived at 10:15 (p.m.), the lady directed us to the end of the L-O-N-G line to the left. THAT was the FastPass line. I reached the end of the line just as a teenager with long, dark hair and an attitude to match arrived. With a smirk, she elbowed her way ahead of me.

Being a good Christian and all, I decided to ignore it. Then she called for her posse, who all jumped ahead of us. Eight of them. (I counted.) Then, her mother and grandmother (old enough to know better), who had a friend. Twelve extra bodies. By this time, my patience was depleting rapidly, but I finally decided not to make a scene. (Color me wussy.)

Then we got to the head of the line . . . and their entire group was turned away, because their FastPass had a later time on it. HAH! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. (What’s English for “schadenfreude”?)

Sometimes life is like that. When you rush and push ahead, sometimes you get sent back to the end of the line, bypassing those you’ve mistreated along the way. Not always . . . but sometimes, the universe teaches you a lesson.

Even at Disney World.