Christianity, Recovery, Spirituality, Uncategorized

Ragamuffins

The sun shines brightly on the porch this morning. The cold front that came through last night is far less severe than the last few ones. Winter is spent, even though it still throws waves of cold air, hoping to hang on. Spring is not having it, though. Shorts and a t-shirt are the garb of the day…

I started reading The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning a few days ago. It’s an annual thing I do. I was first introduced to Brennan early in my recovery by my brother Craig. Although I’ve given many copies away over the years I still have the first one he gave me: well-worn, loved, and treasured. I find something I missed each time I read it. I choose to believe that’s because of Brennan’s great insight and not the fact that my memory isn’t what it used to be…

If I may, I’ll share a little of Brennan’s background for those of you who may not be acquainted with him. He called himself a “vagabond evangelist”, a former Catholic priest who also happened to be a recovering alcoholic. That’s what initially sparked my interest in him early in my own recovery. Brennan knew, in no uncertain terms, that everything in his (and our) life is grace given by a God who is absolutely, crazy in love with him (and us). He influenced and helped so many people throughout his ministry as a “vagabond evangelist”. He passed away a few years ago. I cherish his insights and words of wisdom today.

Brennan wasn’t perfect. Many people felt let down by his relapses with alcohol, especially people in recovery. We can be a harsh, judgmental lot. We tend to think of relapse as failure. Brennan was consistent in his recovery – he brushed himself off and “got back on the horse” as we say here in Texas – and more importantly, in his relationship with God.

I think that’s why I re-read The Ragamuffin Gospel so many times. I need to be reminded that I, too, fail more than I’d ever like to admit. I need to be reminded that I desperately need the God of my understanding, the one that Brennan helped me find. I need to be reminded that no matter how imperfect or how many times I fall, God loves me: not just unconditionally (a word that has been so overused it has lost its impact), but in an incredibly awesome way I can’t even imagine. That fills me with hope and best of all, trust.

I’m okay with being a ragamuffin today. As a friend of mine tells me, “we’re just one beggar telling another beggar where we found food”. I came to God beaten-down, ragged, and dirty. My life was a mess and I hope I never forget that it still can be. The Teacher I follow today reminds me, “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule”. I trust that is the case today. It seems to work for me. Today I’m just a ragamuffin who gets to eat at the banquet. So, Brennan, thanks for sharing the feast…

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