A Story Worth Reading

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A Story Worth Reading

Post by Test on Tue Jan 18, 2011 6:29 pm

Father John Powell, a professor at Loyola University
in Chicago , writes about a student in his Theology of
Faith class named Tommy:

Some twelve years ago, I stood watching my university
students file into the classroom for our first session
in the Theology of Faith.

That was the day I first saw Tommy. My eyes and my
mind both blinked. He was combing his long flaxen
hair, which hung six inches below his shoulders. It
was the first time I had ever seen a boy with hair
that long. I guess it was just coming into fashion
then. I know in my mind that it isn't what's on your
head but what's in it that counts; but on that day I
was unprepared and my emotions flipped. I immediately
filed Tommy under "S"
for strange... Very strange.

Tommy turned out to be the "atheist in residence"
in my Theology of Faith course. He constantly objected
to, smirked at, or whined about the possibility of an
unconditionally loving Father/God. We lived with
each other in relative peace for one semester,
although I admit he was for me at times a serious pain
in the back pew.

When he came up at the end of the course to turn in
his final exam, he asked in a cynical tone, "Do you
think I'll ever find God?"

I decided instantly on a little shock therapy.
"No!" I
said very emphatically.
"Why not," he responded, "I thought that was
the product you were pushing."

I let him get five steps from the classroom door and
then called out, "Tommy! I don't think you'll ever
find Him, but I am absolutely certain that He will
find you!" He shrugged a little and left my class and my life.

I felt slightly disappointed at the thought that he
had missed my clever line -- He will find you! At
least I thought it was clever

Later I heard that Tommy had graduated, and I was duly grateful.
Then a sad report came. I heard that Tommy had
terminal cancer. Before I could search him out, he
came to see me. When he walked into my office, his
body was very badly wasted and the long hair had all
fallen out as a result of chemotherapy. But his eyes
were bright and his voice was firm, for the first time, I believe.

"Tommy, I've thought about you so often; I hear you
are sick," I blurted out.

"Oh, yes, very sick. I have cancer in both lungs. It's a matter of weeks."

"Can you talk about it, Tom?" I asked.

"Sure, what would you like to know?" he replied.

"What's it like to be only twenty-four and dying?"

"Well, it could be worse."

"Like what?"

"Well, like being fifty and having no values or
ideals, l like being fifty and thinking that booze,
seducing women, and making money are the real biggies in life.."
I began to look through my mental file cabinet under
"S" where I had filed Tommy as strange. (It seems as
though everybody I try to reject by classification,
God sends back into my life to educate me.)

"But what I really came to see you about," Tom said,
"is something you said to me on the last day of
class." (He remembered!) He continued, "I asked you
if you thought I would ever find God and you said,
'No!' which surprised me. Then you said, 'But
He will find you.' I thought about that a lot, even though my
search for God was hardly intense at that time.

(My clever line. He thought about that a lot!) "But
when the doctors removed a lump from my groin and
told me that it was malignant, that's when I got
serious about locating God.. And when the malignancy
spread into my vital organs, I really began banging
bloody fists against the bronze doors of heaven. But
God did not come out. In fact, nothing happened. Did
you ever try anything for a long time with great
effort and with no success? You get psychologically
glutted, fed up with trying. And then you quit

"Well, one day I woke up, and instead of throwing a
few more futile appeals over that high brick wall to a
God who may be or may not be there, I just quit. I
decided that I didn't really care about God, about an
after life, or anything like that. I decided to spend
what time I had left doing something more profitable.
I thought about you and your class and I remembered
something else you had said: 'The essential sadness is
to go through life without loving. But it would be
almost equally sad to go through life and leave this
world without ever telling those you loved that you
had loved them.'"

"So, I began with the hardest one, my Dad. He was
reading the newspaper when I approached him.
"Dad."

"Yes, what?" he asked without lowering the
newspaper.

"Dad, I would like to talk with you."

"Well, talk."

"I mean . It's really important."

The newspaper came down three slow inches. "What is
it?"

"Dad, I love you, I just wanted you to know
that."
Tom smiled at me and said it with obvious
satisfaction, as though he felt a warm and secret joy
flowing inside of him. "The newspaper fluttered to
the floor. Then my father did two things I could
never remember him ever doing before. He cried and he
hugged me. We talked all night, even though he had to
go to work the next morning. It felt so good to be
close to my father, to see his tears, to feel his hug,
to hear him say that he loved me."

"It was easier with my mother and little brother.
They cried with me, too, and we hugged each other, and
started saying real nice things to each other. We
shared the things we had been keeping secret for so
many years.

"I was only sorry about one thing --- that I had
waited so long. Here I was, just beginning to open up

to all the people I had actually been close to.
"Then, one day I turned around and God was there. He
didn't come to me when I pleaded with Him. I guess I
was like an animal trainer holding out a hoop,
'C'mon,
jump through. C'mon, I'll give you three days,
three
weeks.'"

"Apparently God does things in His own way and at His
own hour. But the important thing is that He was
there. He found me! You were right. He found me
even after I stopped looking for Him."

"Tommy," I practically gasped, "I think you
are saying
something very important and much more universal than
you realize. To me, at least, you are saying that
the surest way to find God is not to make Him a
private possession, a problem solver, or an instant
consolation in time of need, but rather by opening to
love. You know, the Apostle John said that. He said:
'God is love, and anyone who lives in love is living
with God and God is living in him.' Tom, could I ask
you a favor? You know, when I had you in class you
were a real pain. But (laughingly) you can make it
all up to me now. Would you come into my present
Theology of Faith course and tell them what you have
just told me? If I told them the same thing it
wouldn't be half as effective as if you were to tell
it."

"Oooh.. I was ready for you, but I don't know if
I'm
ready for your class."

"Tom, think about it. If and when you are ready, give
me a call."

In a few days Tom called, said he was ready for the
class, that he wanted to do that for God and for me.
So we scheduled a date.

However, he never made it. He had another
appointment, far more important than the one with me
and my class. Of course, his life was not really
ended by his death, only changed. He made the great
step from faith into vision. He found a life far more
beautiful than the eye of man has ever seen or the ear
of man has ever heard or the mind of man has ever
imagined.

Before he died, we talked one last time.

"I'm not going to make it to your class," he
said.

"I know, Tom."

"Will you tell them for me? Will you ... tell the
whole world for me?"

I will, Tom. I'll tell them. I'll do my best."

So, to all of you who have been kind enough to read
this simple story about God's love, thank you for
listening. And to you, Tommy, somewhere in the
sunlit, verdant hills of heaven --- I told them,
Tommy, as best I could.


With thanks, Rev. John Powell,
Professor, Loyola University ,
Chicago

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Re: A Story Worth Reading

Post by yang-ew on Sat Jan 22, 2011 3:16 pm

thanks Ryan! im touched.
"I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn't, than live my life as if there isn't and die to find out there is.” ]by: Albert Camus

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