By Bill Sheridan
Nick had no idea that he was giving me Spiritual Direction when he spoke to me. The young shuttle driver was simply driving me back to the shop where my car had been serviced. He shared about learning carpentry as a teenager by working with his older brother in the construction business. It was great in itself, but one story really stood out:
“I used to be afraid of heights. But that changed when the boss, my older brother, pulled a dirty trick on me. We were working on a tall building and I had climbed nearly to the top of my ladder. Suddenly it began to tremble! I looked down only to see him peering back up at me with a big grin on his face. He had grabbed both sides from a lower rung, causing the ladder to shake!”
“Wow!” I exclaimed. “Were you angry?”
“Yeah. For a minute. Until I learned why he did it. He first made sure that I had three points of contact, knowing that I would be perfectly safe when he shook me.”
Now I was really curious. “What do you mean three points of contact?”
“One hand and two feet. Or two hands and one foot. As long as I was in either position, I was not going to fall.”
His story intrigued me. And it made me think about my journey away from, and road back to, Mother Church.
I was a cradle Catholic growing up in a small northeast Iowa village. I attended Catholic grade school. Served Mass. Followed the rules.
As a young adult, I taught English at a Catholic high school. I lectored on Sunday and was once president of the PTA. We sent our three sons through 12 years of Catholic School education.
And then, to the surprise of friends and family, I left the Catholic Church for five or six years.
During that sabbatical, I attended a myriad of protestant churches and became active in a Full Gospel Businessmen group. I was searching for a closer relationship with Our Lord. And in the process, met many wonderful people and learned to love Scripture.
It was an amazing journey. Frankly, one that I do not regret, because I know that even then God was active in drawing me to (and back to) the truth.
The Holy Spirit guided me home to my roots: the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
And now I will never leave. After my adventure, I can recognize three points of contact similar to shuttle driver Nick. And they were there for me all the time had I taken full advantage of them.
- Mass, with the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. I had taken this marvelous sacrament for granted. Our separated brethren consider communion to be only a symbol or remembrance. But in the Church founded by Jesus Himself, we receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord and Savior in Holy Communion.
- The powerful sacrament of reconciliation. Confession. Telling the Lord through His earthly priests that we’re truly sorry for having offended Him and others. And walking away completely absolved of those sins. With a clean slate. Forgiven.
- Absorbing all things Catholic. I developed a love for Scripture, reading ‘all’ of the books of the Old Testament which are not found in protestant bibles. This a powerful tool which I had virtually ignored before my time away. Studying the full Catechism. Catholic Radio. EWTN. The Rosary. The Divine Chaplet.
These are the three points of contact that help keep me from falling.
So, thank you Nick the shuttle driver. I appreciate the rides from and back to the fix-it shop. But I’m more appreciative of learning a wonderful technique to help me hang onto my spiritual ladder, the Roman Catholic Church.