Those who have met me in recent years may be surprised to know that I was a somewhat melancholic teen. For years I saw the world as very black and white; I saw good and bad. I wanted everything to be good, and I was unhappy that some things were bad. Despite my own happy childhood I looked around at the world and saw what I considered to be a negative place. I couldn’t figure out how I fit into it or how it could ever feel “right.”
I remember a conversation I had with the man who mentored me through those teen years and many years beyond – a parish priest who put up with my melancholy and who succeeded in the careful balancing act of loving me just as I was while simultaneously bringing about a substantial change in me. One day I told him just how bad this life is, just how miserable. I was armed with a quote from St. Teresa of Avila that I thought captured the whole awful mess of life. “Life,” I said, “is like a bad night in a bad inn.”
I was sure that God and all his angels and saints agreed with me. But Fr. Tim didn’t. He didn’t agree with me at all. And his response shifted the entire worldview going on in my teenage brain. It changed the way I saw everything including myself, him, God, suffering, my future. It changed the way I saw my world and how I fit into it. Fr. Tim told me life isn’t a bad night in a bad inn. “Life,” he said, “is the moment of your salvation.”
I have never stopped believing that. I have never stopped seeing my world and my life from this fuller perspective – one that recognizes life as a gracious moment, a time of encounters and relationships that bring me closer and closer to the heart of God if only I will allow it. Sure, sometimes the inn feels run down or drafty or even dangerous. Sometimes the other people in the inn rob, cheat and steal – or gossip or disappoint or annoy me. Sometimes it is dark and the night in the inn feels long. But the moment of my salvation is long, long enough for me to settle into the beauty of this inn and its people, long enough to learn how to live here with them and with myself, long enough to grow into my own salvation. God has not left me here to flounder until morning comes. He lives with me here, in this time and place. This is the moment of my salvation.