WRITTEN  SEPTEMBER 23

In the Roman Calendar, today is the commemoration of Padre Pio. A Saint who was canonized by John Paul II, Padre Pio died in 1968. He was a man of great witness and discipleship. Padre Pio became a very sought after priest for spiritual direction and confession and reconciliation after he developed the stigmata (the wounds of Jesus on the palms of the hands).  He believed that people are called to engage in their faith. He said, “Be good Christians, or your journey will serve you no good purpose. Only by good example can you change the world.” In proclaiming his faith Padre Pio did not hide his woundedness. He revealed both his spiritual and physical wounds. He did not hide the fact that he was a reflection of Christ’s woundedness.

It seems to me that we are called to be disciples and to bear witness. Let me share with you a little about someone whom I believe has been bearing witness and has been living discipleship.

I have been reading a few books. I just finished a book entitled “From the Ashes of My Dreams,” by Ed Smith. Ed is the author whose article regarding ministering to children, I posted on this blog in August. In this book Ed recounts his struggle to recover from a terrible motor vehicle accident that left him paralysed from the chest down (or as he reminds us in the book – the nipple line.)  I have long admired Ed Smith’s writing and I have long admired his humour and good wit. I have been inspired by his regular column in The Telegram to do good and to look for good in others. In Ed’s vocation there is integrity, and it is refreshing. Today I have a new respect for Ed Smith. This book is an honest (and sometimes difficult to read) journey of a man who has to face unbelievable struggle to get back to living. I gained a new perspective on this man, his tremendous family and his faith.  Ed recounts his struggle with faith and with God. It is increasingly rare that we get to hear that kind of honesty about a faith journey.  The fundamentalists have hijacked the word Christian, and the media love to report what “Christians” are thinking. I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the media’s fixation on Mother Teresa’s doubts. Yet I contend that it was her doubts and her courage to be honest about them that made her such a profound and powerful witness. Ed Smith is another good reflection of this. Reading this book will make you laugh and will make you cry. In the midst of all of that emotion is a real story of faith and courage. Ed Smith soldiers on in life despite the challenges and is a living witness to the human’s spiritual capacity to rise above all challenges. I found myself saying “yes” out loud when I read his recounting with frustration the times that people used expressions like – “It’s all a part of God’s Plan.” Or “God never gives you more than you can bear.” Or “It’s all a part of God’s will.” He is direct about the fact that miracles are an elusive reality and that he has uncertain feelings about what they mean, but is he is very clear about what they do not mean in his circumstance. This was very heartening for me. I, like so many, have struggled with those glib things that people say in an attempt to be helpful. I personally refuse to accept a God who wills that a person like Ed Smith should be restricted to a chair for life, or for that matter that children should die from unbelievably rare conditions, people should starve, cancers run free and wars increase from day to day. No – God is not that cruel. The God that I know weeps at all of those scenarios and the many more situations of suffering that are so devastating in this world. It was refreshing to read the words of a person who living through his own hell was confronted with debunking those expressions for what they are – an attempt by those who love us to say something kind. I just found his whole story very inspiring. In every aspect this book really brings hope to the reader. I would recommend it to everyone but most especially to those who are facing what feel like impossible odds.

Having read Ed’s writing for years I feel comfortable saying that “by [his] good example [he is] changing the world.” Thanks Ed for your ongoing witness to Light, Love, Peace and Perseverance. I know that in your honest struggle on your faith journey, there is a witness to all of us who journey on this road as well.  In proclaiming his faith Ed Smith did not hide his woundedness. He revealed both his spiritual and physical wounds. He did not hide the fact that he was a reflection of Christ’s woundedness.

I believe that in one’s brokenness there is a reflection of the profound light of God. That Light is expressed well in the life of The Padre Pios and Ed Smiths of this world.

You can buy Ed Smith’s book from Chapters by clicking here.