A LONG TIME ago in a galaxy far, far away (cue the “Star Wars” music) I worked with juvenile felons at a place called Echo Glen Children’s Center, located in Issaquah.
I loved it at first but then realized that the environment was getting to me, and simply, I had to get out.
Being married with a couple young kids made this somewhat problematic.
It was hard leaving but I had a temporary job opportunity up here in Port Angeles, and as they say, what the heck and why not?
I thought about this as I encountered a couple of teenage boys in the alley behind Queen of Angels church a couple of weeks ago.
They were on bikes and they had that look, the kind that says if you are looking for trouble you will probably find it.
I approached them, pretty much because I was there and had a brief conversation, they scooted along and I did, too.
My brain paused a minute as I got into my car and I thought of all that had transpired in the intervening years between Echo Glen and the present and the whole kid thing; basically how you’ve grown, hopefully, in dealing with kids, but also for me, most importantly — the faith thing, perhaps stupidly, you’re not afraid of anything.
Along with the kid thing, and the faith thing, comes the respect thing.
Anyone who works with kids (and I do) knows that they are pretty hard to fake (and you shouldn’t go there anyway).
I encountered these lads, looked them in the eye, gave them the respect of my attention and they were gone perhaps never to be seen again.
Respect, even for teenagers, is no small thing.
These were children of God. Are children of God.
The greatest encounters we have are those where we meet eye to eye.
It is no wonder they are usually the most difficult, too.
Mother Teresa once said, “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.”
We live in such a hopped-up social media world where one wrong or misinterpreted word can lead to “war.”
I remember reading an interview with Tiger Woods after his major fall from grace a few years back.
He’s a golfer, by the way.
He would solve his problems, he said, by going deep into himself.
I thought Tiger, you’re going in the wrong direction.
Look outward young man; look to the sky, to the heavens — to the source, your creator for heaven’s sake.
Your ego is not your amigo, and he had it aplenty.
Humility, dude, humility.
I’m pretty sure he didn’t hear me, kind of like when my golf ball is in flight and I’m urging it to go this way or that.
Though sometimes I am surprised.
How does humility translate to our crazy world? And why is it so important?
Follow any of the lives of the saints and aside from heroic virtue which they all have, you will see lessons in humbleness and humility, a dependence on God and God’s response to that.
This gift is open to everyone and the resulting feeling, no matter the hardship is the gift of peace.
Sometimes we have to look inward, to assess who we are, our actions and desires.
But dude (and this is a term of endearment) the God who created you, your father knows what you need and knows you better (see infinitely) than you know yourself.
So again, why is humility important?
By supplicating ourselves we become who we are supposed to be, and fear takes a back seat where it belongs.
Check out Blessed Miguel Pro, murdered in 1926, too short a life, and see how humility and heroic virtue created this soon-to-be saint.
Spoiler alert: His deep faith and trust in God was reciprocated in this modern-day martyr.
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart,” Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:29.
This is how Miguel Pro lived and died.
It’s not complicated, this faith thing, and I’m not trying to be flippant.
It just isn’t.
God speaks to you all the time.
If you’re not sure about something or need guidance and you’re not sure which way or where to go, imagine Jesus is sitting right beside you, and you have his full attention, and listen with your heart.
We know all our problems will not go away, but what comes our way we’ll have a better handle on, and this is the peace that God desires in us.
Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. Mike Acheson is director of religious education at Queen of Angels Roman Catholic Church in Port Angeles and St. Joseph Parish in Sequim. His email is [email protected]