Tuesday of course was the big sleet and snow day, but Wednesday dawned sunny if not warm and after a busy morning of meetings we finally broke away and headed out to the Hill Country.
We had checked into the La Quinta and were headed for the car when we ran into Fr. Ned paying for our stay at the lobby counter. Seems the youth of the parish had maxed out the credit card over the weekend so he’d brought over a check. He and Jerry confirmed directions to the church and we went our separate ways.
We drove out to Bandera to check out a few dude ranches, (we don’t have enough to do here at the Ranch so we’re looking into the dude ranch business). Back in Boerne we found the church and joined the congregation in the parish hall.
A group from St. Helena’s had come out to the Ranch to work in the greenhouses and the tree farm in ’07. They’d been so impressed they’d brought a group of kids to help out at Ranch Camp in ’08.
As we sat down with our gumbo and salad at a table a woman turned to me and said, her eyes shining, “His week at camp turned my son into a new person.”
I remarked on how being around our campers and residents can do that. They invite us to share a world where our assumptions are routinely turned upside down.
Later, during his talk, Jerry shared his personal journey to faith after Kelly was born.
Kelly certainly turned our lives upside down! We had the family almost grown, and here came a new baby. Our three girls were bright and accomplished, and we didn’t know what even to expect from the new baby. We didn’t want what we’d got, but discovered that we’d been given a huge gift and fell madly in love with her.
And wasn’t that a lot of what Jesus said—that business about the last being first? Wasn’t he always turning things upside down? If the honored guests don’t have time to come to the party, then party on with the ones who do!
The folks at the Lenten “party” were visibly moved by Jerry’s story, and frankly, so was I.
It’s the story of a man who didn’t want his life to change and of all the frightening and wonderful things that happened when it did.
And it's an old, old story indeed.