The other evening I went to the swimming pool at my health club. I’m not a serious swimmer, but I make my around the pool, usually praying the Rosary. Our Lady told me when I began trying to pray 15 decades a day, “You don’t have to sit.”
So, what do I see but this young couple who looked like they were having sex on the side of the pool.
She was huge, round as a beach ball. He was lean. Both had tattoos. He had her pinned against the side of the pool, and well, I had to avert my eyes.
There was a swimming lesson going on in another part of the pool. The couple then moved to the hot tub and I was able to concentrate on my prayers without having to see them. But then they came back into the pool and were cruising around the water as if joined together.
Now, I don’t think they were actually having sex, but I was disgusted. And thus, well, I was falling prey to what Pope Francis was warning about in his post-synod talk:
The Pope said: “The temptation of stiffening hostile, that is, the desire to close in the script (the letter) and not be surprised by God, the God of surprises (the spirit); within the law, in the certainty of what we know and what we still need to learn and achieve. From the time of Jesus, is the temptation of the zealots, the scrupulous and considerate of the so-called – Today – ‘traditionalists’ and also the intellectualists.”
Hah! I was in the pool Wednesday, and here was was stiffening at the sight of these young people. But, Mother Mary, is working on me. She suggested through a breath of inspiration that I pray the Divine Mercy chaplet for the couple. So, I did.
I don’t think I even did the whole chaplet. Maybe I did a decade, but then, lo and behold, I was surprised by God! Whenever I pray Divine Mercy, the first person to receive the Lord’s mercy is me.
And God’s mercy opened my heart to this couple. I was able to look at them and see them as human beings and we began to have a conversation. They were curious about the restaurant in the hotel, was it any good? I spoke with her mostly. She was pretty, despite her weight.
She seemed so hungry for warmth and acceptance. And, praise be to God, suddenly I was able to extend that to her.
We met again briefly in the change room. She had just showered, and hid her nakedness behind one of the postage stamp-sized towels they give us.
She looked vulnerable and still hungry for warmth and kindness.
“I hope you enjoy the restaurant,” I said.
So, I pray that I remain open to the surprises of God. That I do not allow myself to be offended or turned off by people and thus turned off to grace and mercy.