Two students asked a rabbi, “Why does God command us to put the word of God on our hearts. Why did God not say to put God’s word in our hearts?” The rabbi responded, “We are commanded to place the word of God on our hearts because our hearts are closed and the word of God cannot get in. So God commands us to place the word of God on our hearts. And there it sits and waits for the day when our hearts will be broken. When they are broken, then the word of God will fall gently inside.” This parable was shared early on in the FSJ pilgrimage to the Holy Land by one of our leaders, and this pilgrimage indeed broke open my heart. We talk of God-moments in our lives; these were God-days.
I found a real spiritual home at SSJE in 1984, after graduating from college. I’d taught math for a year at the Taft School, then moved back to Boston to work for an actuarial consulting company, designing pension plans. I loved my job, I had a fabulous apartment in the North End, and I loved going to SSJE for the weeknight Eucharist. But at the time I was wrestling with discerning a call to the priesthood: Am I called, am I not called? Do I say yes? When do I say yes? I had all these checklists in my head and I kept making deals with myself: “Once I turn this age… once I accomplish that goal… then I’ll say yes to the priesthood.”