The weather has been spectacular in middle America the past few days—creating a bit of an atmospheric disconnect in my spirit.
We don’t often get to enjoy humidity-free days with high temps in the 70s in my part of the country this time of year. I’m much more accustomed to being borderline miserable at outdoor activities on the 4th of July—sweltering in the oppressive heat and muggy air. So I’ve been making a special effort to enjoy the glorious conditions these past few days.
But there’s a part of me, deep inside, that hesitates to go along for the ride. Part of me realizes that storms are raging in the lives of some people who are very close to me, and I simply don’t know how to help. I don’t know how to be present to them. I’m frustrated by my utter inability to fix it, and make it better.
Which makes me a bit like St. Thomas the Apostle, I suppose. As we celebrated his feast day yesterday, we got to hear one of the Gospel stories that’s most often associated with him—his ‘doubting Thomas’ episode, when he calls into question the report that the other apostles have seen the risen Jesus in their midst.
It sounds too good to be true…almost like high temps in the 70s on the 4th of July. And Thomas’ reaction is telling, I think: ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands…and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.’
Thomas tends to get a bad rap for his statement of disbelief. But there’s an important kernel of truth in the words he speaks…a recognition that it’s impossible to paper over some of the stuff that happens in our lives with happy chatter about heavenly apparitions.
If Jesus is truly risen, Thomas realizes, then he must still bear the wounds of the cross.
And notice that Jesus does eventually confirm this insight on Thomas’s part: When he appears to the apostles again, he tells Thomas, ‘Plunge your hand into my side. And do not be unbelieving, but believe.’
So perhaps the wounds we experience in our lives are meant to be there. Perhaps they are precisely the mechanism Jesus will use to draw us, and those we love, closer to himself.
Something to ponder, as we turn our eyes skyward to the fireworks on this glorious day in July.