... a new heart, and a new spirit....
Left Babylon, N.Y., at the inhuman hour of 4 a.m. on Friday to make the five-and-a-half-hour journey to Ithaca, N.Y., with my brother Nicholas. I say inhuman hour and not ungodly, because God is always by our side, no matter the hour or the place. But God raises us up from even the most forsaken hours of the day and brings us to life. Over the trip along highways empty save for the biggest trucks, God animated our conversation; and God made the sun to rise in the sky and the Son to rise in our hearts. God kept our bodies awake, and gradually God stirred our souls to new awakenings.
By quarter to ten, we were standing in Nicholas' new apartment; and an hour later, all his property was inside. By the end of the day, a visitor would have had a hard time telling that Nicholas had just moved in, so settled was the place. It is a good place, a quiet place. He has hot water, good plumbing, electricity and Internet, and central air. Above all, he has a roof over his head. A good place, one you can fill with conversation, prayer, study, and sacred silence. Today we will also fill the kitchen and pantry with food and prepare a celebratory meal. Thanks be to God.
A new start. With this, a renewed hope for the coming of a new heaven and earth. Dear God, give my blessed brother a new heart, and a new spirit, fit to receive these promised things. He is free, and you are the one who has set him free. Help him know and give thanks for his freedom. Help him to use it and guard it for the sake of your promises. With this freedom, help him be who he is becoming, and let him become for your sake, let him act in your name.
And let it happen here, in Ithaca. O Ithaca, my Ithaca ... it is so good to see you again! The place where you woke me, God, and set me on the right path, your path for me to follow. Seeing downtown, sharing a meal of Thai food with my brother, beholding the hills and the lake, beholding the skyline of Cornell University -- these things were good for my soul. I cannot wait to walk the campus of Cornell with Nicholas tomorrow, to worship with him and the local Catholic community, and to breathe more deeply the air up here. Thanks be to God.
O Ithaca, my Ithaca, blessed may you be. Lord Jesus, lord of the pilgrimage, brother of exiles, by the power of your Holy Spirit dwelling in the soul of this place, do for my brother what you have done for me. Give him a new heart and a new spirit, and let him receive it with joy, with love.