In early February 2020, I gathered to pray with 20 other Ignatian educators in a small chapel in Sedona, AZ.
I almost didn’t notice the building at first. It simplicity didn’t stand out all that much in the beautiful garden surrounding it. When we headed out from our meeting room to do our afternoon prayer, I assumed we were going to the large chapel on the property. Instead, however, we walked in the opposite direction, past the rooms we were staying in and through the garden to a little chapel. From the doorway, I wondered how we were all going to fit.
Inside the chapel, we found a small circular room dimly lit by the sun pouring through the stained glass along one side. A bench circled the wall and in the center two circular rows of steps led deeper into the floor. The twenty of us more than filled up the benches and the floor below.
The two musicians in the group started their opening song and I was struck by how the sound filled the space. The voices of everyone uniting together gave a blanket of warmth to the tiny space.
As I read today’s Gospel, I was immediately transported back to that chapel. It was one month before I would sit for five weeks in my home uncertain as to what the future would hold. In that chapel, God felt close… as if I could reach out and touch his side and prove to myself, like Thomas, that the Resurrection was real. And now, I feel a little like the scared disciples – hunkering down and wondering when things will feel normal again.
At the end of today’s Gospel, it says “Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book.” Of all the richness of this passage, it was this line that I stayed with as I read through this Gospel today. This simple line added at the end of this passage by John —- it is a line of hope. It is a line of hope that I cling to that says I will get to sit again one day and worship with other Ignatian educators. It is a line of hope I cling too that I will continue to see signs of God’s presence in my life. It is a line of that mimics the hope Christ had for Thomas that he would believe… and even a line that whispers the divine mercy that Christ had for him when he struggled to do so.
The end of this week brought news that our students will not grace the desks of our classrooms again this year. And I know that’s true or will be true for all 20 educators from all over the country that gathered in that small chapel to pray for their schools and their communities that sunny day back in February. So my heart is with them again this Divine Mercy Sunday. It’s back with them in that chapel, praying that each of them is able to feel the presence of God today. The God that was both there in that chapel and is here in our homes waiting patiently for us to believe, trust, and hope that an incredible future does lie ahead.