Some people are dreamers. They come up with crazy ideas of how things can be better. Their ideas aren’t always practical or well thought through. But they are willing to disrupt the status quo because a lot of things in the world can be better still. They are successful only in as much as they surround themselves with those who can help make their crazy ideas come alive. These are the problem-solvers, the engineers, the architects who get excited about the necessary details that bring fantastic ideas to tangible reality. And it’s hard work to persuade others to jump on the bandwagon, to join in the chorus and convince those on the fence, to raise awareness and support to fund a project, to power the engines that drive movement, to achieve a victory that doesn’t yet exist. I am reminded of a quote from the French aviator and writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery, whose book the Little Prince left an impression back in high school. He wrote, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
I am convinced that is exactly what the framers of the US Constitution did when they agreed the time had come to part ways with Mother England and chart a course of independence and self-government. We are living the reality they dreamed 200 years ago. But even they were aware every generation of Americans would have to continue working to perfect the union they envisioned, making it work best to meet their own needs and circumstances. And that is no easy task since we have grown more diverse. But there are some who are no longer convinced our union is worth perfecting. They are eager to sound the demise of the American experiment. They have no vision for what will take its place or whether it will be a better option than the status quo.
Among the disciples of Jesus huddled in that upper room arose a movement that would set the world ablaze proclaiming a most unfamiliar message of God’s offer of unbounded mercy and reconciliation and restoration and new life. This movement contradicted the easy acceptance of human depravity and divine tyranny. Toppling the status quo would cause great discomfort and disrupt systems of economics and power and influence. Clearly revolutions are designed more to benefit the exploited and marginalized than the comfortable and prosperous. Even a message of God’s forgiveness and healing would meet tremendous resistance. There is just much more profit to be made from fostering division and inflicting harm.
And Jesus Christ entrusted to his church the task of continuing to proclaim this message of God’s offer of unbounded mercy and reconciliation and restoration and new life. But authentic disciples need to constantly explore ways to keep the gospel message fresh and compelling. This is where dreamers come in, dreamers who place themselves at the service of the gospel. In every generation the Holy Spirit will inspire a few hearts and minds to complete some unfinished business. Every so often God will send among us dreamers who will invite us to build a ship.
I believe this new church building was such a ship. I don’t expect to do anything like this again somewhere else. Our Social Outreach Ministry is another ship. And it is slowly gaining momentum. But the Holy Spirit has a lot of unfinished business in Rome, in Richmond, and here in Waynesboro. Dreamers will meet opposition. I can tell stories. It will take some skill to persuade others to jump on the bandwagon, to join in the chorus and convince those on the fence, to raise awareness and support to fund a new project, to power the engines that drive movement, to achieve a victory that doesn’t yet exist. I might have more crazy ideas but I have been less and less effective as the years have gone by. Volunteers are few. And those who volunteer are overwhelmed. Invitations for help with unspectacular functions like ushering and altar serving and Eucharistic ministry are falling on deaf ears. Help with teaching the faith and leadership like parish council is always needed. People will lament that things can be better, but they seldom offer ideas or solutions that involve getting involved themselves. Don’t get me wrong. I am immensely grateful to those who through the years have stepped up and shouldered the heavy load. They have done their bit. But we will always need new dreamers and problem-solvers and movers and shakers. “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. And we were all given to drink of one Spirit.” God will provide what we need. Come help build the ship.
In spectacular fashion the Holy Spirit came in driving wind and tongues of fire upon the disciples gathered in the upper room. And they began to speak in different languages proclaiming the mighty acts of God. If you have experienced God’s presence and action in your life, share it. It is good news. And it will invite listeners to reflect on what God is doing in theirs. And perhaps they will be more attentive when the Holy Spirit sends someone else to invite us anew to build a ship.
Your next pastor Fr. Francis is getting a brand-new church building. But he will have the unpleasant task of having to wake those who are still asleep, to encourage spectators to get involved, to plant new seeds, and to set ablaze those I have lulled into complacency. He is going to need your help with the Holy Spirit’s unfinished business. He will need your help to build a new and different kind of ship.
Rolo B Castillo © 2022