October 21, 2011

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

A lesson learned through the Internet—or possibly not?

Shirley Vogler MeisterNot long ago, I received an e-mail that I read several times in order to understand the truth in it.

Although I disagreed with the final observation, I pondered over many challenging comments. At the end, I laughed out loud despite my reservations.

The e-mail included a picture of an elderly man with a long beard, who was wearing a black hat and robe. The message was this:

“A female CNN journalist heard about a very old Jewish man who had been going to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem to pray twice a day every day for a long, long time. To check it out, she went to the wall and there he was, walking slowly toward the holy site. She watched him pray.

“After 45 minutes, when he turned to leave, using a cane and moving very slowly, she approached him for an interview.

“ ‘Pardon me, sir, I’m Rebbeca Smith from CNN. What’s your name?’

“ ‘Morris Feinberg,’ he replied.

“ ‘Sir, how long have you been coming to the Wailing Wall to pray?’

“ ‘For about 60 years.’

“ ‘Sixty years? That’s amazing! What do you pray for?’

“ ‘I pray for peace between the Christians, Jews and Muslims.

“ ‘I pray for all the wars and all the hatred to stop.

“ ‘I pray for all our children to grow up safely as responsible adults and to love their fellow man.’

“The journalist then asked, ‘How do you feel, sir, after doing this for 60 years?’

“The rabbi probably pondered a moment then said, ‘I feel like I’m praying to a brick wall.’ ”

I was startled by his answer, and I couldn’t help but laugh.

Yet, a few moments later, I actually began crying after realizing that the strange ending was a comment of defeat.

As a Catholic, I believe that God answers all our prayers, but not always in the ways that we prefer or expect.

“Praying to a brick wall” is such a negative reaction. But it opened my eyes and made me think more about the purpose of the e-mail message.

However, I believe that God is a loving God. Even if I am disappointed when a prayer isn’t answered—whether praying to God or Jesus or angels or saints—I know that “God’s will” is appropriate.

I don’t always get my way. However, despite my deep belief in “God’s will,” I often vacillate over his decisions. That’s because I am only human.

I cherish the words “Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven” from the “Our Father,” also known as “The Lord’s Prayer.”

I couldn’t always respond in that way, but I’m learning better how to accept that what is … is … even though I might grieve over God’s response.

However, that’s cathartic, too.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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