By Kerry McGuire
Almost a decade ago, I walked in line up to the front of the quaint little chapel at an annual women’s retreat held in a secluded, wooded area of northwest Houston, TX. When my turn came, without peeking as instructed, I reached inside a brown wicker basket to pick out one of the polished rocks it contained inside. The rocks were of all shapes, sizes, and colors, each inscribed with a different word in gold lettering. Whatever rock we chose, we were to ponder on this single word during the weekend retreat to discover if God had a special message or intention specifically selected for us.
I held high hopes for the shiny black, oblong-shaped rock I selected that fit snuggly inside the palm of my hand. Maybe my special message would be one of the 12 fruits of the Holy Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23. God only knew I needed that kind of inspiration during this phase of my life. I had recently moved to the area with my husband of 11 years and two children, both highly energetic and under the age of five. I was a first-time stay-at-home mom, which was quite an adjustment for me, especially since my mom, family, friends, and support network were back home in Tulsa, OK, over 500 miles away. I knew deep inside that my life was filled with many blessings and I had no right to complain, but nonetheless, I still had feelings of sadness, anxiety, and unrest.
As I walked back to the pew and kneeled to pray, I thought, I sure could use more “Faith” or “Joy” right now. Or maybe “Patience” or “Kindness” would be best. No, the fruit I really wanted to taste was, “Peace”, which would make all the others fall into place. I would have been happy with any of the 12, which all would produce sweet fruitful results in their own way.
With much anticipation as I brought my hands together to pray, I turned my rock over gently to reveal its intended message. I was so enraptured about which spiritual fruit I most wanted, I was caught off guard when I instead saw no fruit at all, but rather, “TRUST.” What? Trust isn’t even on the list. How can that be my message? That really doesn’t help at all. This must be someone else’s rock, I thought.
At that moment, I could visualize myself either, 1) bringing the rock back up to the retreat staff and explaining that there was some mistake and I need another one, or 2) walking over to the small pond beyond the chapel and skipping the rock along the surface of the water until it floated down to the bottom with a small insignificant “thunk.” I think what bothered me most was that I was searching for the simple and obvious answers to my challenges, ones that seem more straightforward and easy to obtain like the fruits I desperately craved. Trust had so many layers, more like an onion, and I wasn’t ready to dig that deeply to peel them back.
Of course, I chose option, 3) keeping the rock and trying to see what message it contained for me. To be honest, I don’t remember having an epiphany at that specific retreat, but funny, over the years that rock keeps resurfacing when least expected. In my sock drawer. An old purse. Little pocket of a pair of jeans. A jacket I barely wore in the short south Texas winters. That rock would turn up and I’d see “Trust” all over again, each time the mystery of its meaning unraveling a little bit more each time, making more sense with age, life experiences, and spiritual maturity.
My rock of trust comes to mind again today as the universal Church celebrates Divine Mercy Sunday, one week after Easter as declared in 2000 by Pope Saint John Paul II. It was the same day the Holy Father beautified and canonized Sr. Maria Faustina Kowalska, a polish nun who received many visions and messages from Christ himself during her short lifetime. Written at the bottom of a portrait that Christ told Faustina to have painted in his image contains a simple message for us all, but so important: “Jesus, I trust in you.”
Trust also is depicted in the gospel today as we learn about the first appearance of Jesus to his disciples when they were hiding fearfully in the upper room away from the Jews, right after his Passion on the Cross. Jesus said to them, “Peace be with you,” then showed the wounds on his hands and side. The disciples immediately recognized Christ, rejoiced with him, and completely trusted that this was their resurrected Lord and Savior who indeed came back to them as he had promised.
Thomas, the only disciple who was not present to witness this account, openly doubted when he heard about the visit. Our merciful Lord appeared again and said directly to Thomas: “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” (John 20:29, NABRE)
This beatitude is extremely important for each of us to remember as we make our way in this world. Faith, not sight, is what matters most, and that requires complete and open trust in Jesus and his promises. It’s understanding that God is an unseen force that is always with us. He forgives us. He loves us. He is merciful, always. God is our rock of trust that always turns up, no matter where we find ourselves. Or what we are wearing, in my case.
Looking back, I am so glad God gave me trust that day. I now understand that having a trusting faith, trusting joy, trusting patience, trusting kindness, trusting peace, and you can fill in the blanks with the other seven fruits—that trusting is really a foundation of it all.
Today I carry that old rock in my purse. It’s not so pretty anymore; the polish is now dull and the gold lettering faded. The world “Trust” is almost completely gone, but now that word is forever engraved on my heart. Right where it should be.
Jesus, we trust in you!
About the Author:
Kerry McGuire, wife and mother of two, is founder of Catholic WE (Catholic Women Experience), a lay apostolate in Houston that strives to help women deepen their faith and relationship with Christ through connections and participation within Catholic parishes and communities. Kerry is applying her twenty three years of communications experience and seven years working at a large, vibrant Catholic parish in northwest Houston to oversee the ministry. Kerry also is a contributing writer for the Texas Catholic Herald, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston newspaper, and hopes to share and give back all that she has received through her own wonderful spiritual mentors and friends. Her favorite scripture is Romans 8:28: “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”
Photo courtesy of Kerry McGuire. Used with permission. All rights reserved.