Friday, July 21, 2006

A Million Little Whispers

Yesterday afternoon, I got a call from Bill McGarvey, editor-in-chief of Busted Halo (where "Almost Holy #3" will be appearing shortly) with word that the Trusty Ticker had surpassed a million visitors.

That's right, friends: in little over a year, Whispers hit seven figures and everything's still standing. So far, at least.

It's a bloody miracle.

Seriously, though, I just want to take this moment to say a heartfelt thanks to all of you who, each in your own way, have made that number and these pages possible. While it's beyond question that, if ever there were one, this is one big freak of nature experience, being at the center of the storm is the joy and grace it is solely because of the gift of all of you, which never ceases to astonish and humble me.

I learn more from, and am continually challenged more by, this readership than I've ever learned or been challenged in my life. Thank you, and may its blessings show. Though I'm woefully bad at getting back to the e.mails and even worse at staying as on top of things as I should, the support, encouragement, patience, kindness upon kindness, helpful critiques, information, candor, sheer savagery, examples of goodness and profiles in courage so many of you have gifted me with over time mean the world, all day, every day.

I've always told you all that these pages are only as good as their readership. Usually in spite of the writer, what has unfolded has been, in a word, amazing. It's been a bit of work on my part, sure, but I'm keenly aware that the credit is not mine to claim. "Success has many fathers..." the old saying goes -- and in this case, that's especially true. Not to mention bishops, mothers, brothers, sisters, and friends. And my aunt and uncle.

Earlier in the day, a friend in the Curia checked in, opining that "It's time to give it up while you are ahead!"

He might just be onto something.... Many of you know that, if I had my way, I would've folded ages ago and disappeared to a comfortable, quiet desk job slaving away for The Man so I could actually pay my bills. Then again, I learned early on that if you want to make God laugh, you tell him your plans -- and there's no way any of this could've been planned any better or more fun than it's turned out: errors, faults, foibles and all.

Again, all thanks for your understanding and patience.

One last thought. For those of you who work in or keep an interest in the sciences, I've gotta apologize. As a student, I mixed with them as well as oil does with water. To the point of having to take my alma mater's Quantitative Studies requirement three times. (Or was it four? I've put a bit of a mental block on it.)

Anyways, my high school chemistry teacher -- who, to this day, never fails to greet me with the words, "You were so horrible at Chemistry, but you were always such a delightful child" -- kept a big sign at the front of her classroom which bore a simple truth that needs no experimentation to prove: "None of us is as smart as all of us."

I may have forgotten everything else from that year, but that message hasn't slipped my mind once, and I've always been convinced that it's a good yardstick to measure our actions by. Not just in 10th grade chemistry, or the church, but in life.

These days, we've been dealt the hand of living in a world, and in a church, where an often-senseless sense of division has come to the fore, encompassing fault lines of every sort. Most of these are arbitrary and childish at best, and they result in nothing but wasted time, wasted energy, needless damage and the idolatry of selfishness.

Good news: these fractures -- which often devolve to the point of contradicting everything we, and they, are supposed to be about to begin with -- don't take superhuman resolve to overcome. Bad news: overcoming them does require the simple difficulty of living the talk. Or, at least, trying to. After all, we're not perfect.

At his ordination, a new deacon is exhorted to "Teach what you believe, and put into practice what you teach." In its own way, this medium in this context has given a new form of diakonia to the intersection of a church which moves in centuries with a world which, with each passing day, moves more and more at the speed of light.

Keeping that responsibility in mind, and remembering that alone we are nothing, may we all continue to place ourselves at the service of the whole, in whose embrace each of us is nothing more than but a drop in an endless ocean. None of us is as good, holy, brilliant, productive, perceptive, faithful, creative, (preferred adjective here) as all of us, and only when we realize that do we find the way forward.

Eternal thanks from your humble scribe. God love you all forever.