ADVENT REFLECTION DAY 21
21st of December
OPEN THE DOOR
My Name is Jimmy Doherty and I Live in Ireland. I am going to tell you a little about my life, the dark side of it.
Between the ages of 14-15 years of age I was involved in antisocial behaviour as they call it nowadays, stealing, fighting, drinking etc. the usual stuff- ‘first in’ and ‘last out’ and so on. I would have been into car crime as well but they were thin on the ground. I left school with nothing no exams, no hope, no cares, I broke my parents’ hearts but I didn’t care, always trying to fit in; to be the big man.
At the age of nineteen I went to prison for the first time. I got three years it was easy. I fitted in right away a big man, one of the boys. I fitted in so well that I was only out of prison for six weeks when I got another five year sentence. During the six weeks that I was out my mother was dying of cancer and had been let out of hospital to die, but that did not stop me. I was a victim as well,
My mother was able to drag herself out of bed to watch her 21 year old son being dragged back to prison.
When I got out of jail aged 25 I had spent six years there and showed that it was no big deal. Of course I was blind to the fact the only people who cared about me were my long suffering family. I have to say it was more through luck than anything else that I did not go back to prison again I never expected to live that long; live fast, die young, who wanted to be an old man?.
Now with a wife and family I worked a bit and drank a lot, I existed; not lived-existed. After a good night drinking, came the hangover and the fear of blackouts I could not remember things. In the mornings I would check the news in case I had killed someone and would be back in prison again. Life was good. Sometimes I felt that prison was better, at least I was with my own kind. Now, on the outside I was a nobody and empty. I stopped drinking and worked for my family. The years went by I was eating and breathing but not living. My life was empty I had a family, house, job etc. but what reason did I have to live? I just existed, was life just a circle to be born and then to die.
Later on in my faith journey I learned that Jesus said that He was the ‘door’ but little did I know that He was already calling me to the door, that was why I felt so empty, so He could fill me with His love but first I had to find the door, never mind open it.
The local church was having a week of prayer and two ladies asked if I would give them a lift to the church for the service which I did, they went in while I sat outside. On the third night I went to pick up the two women as usual but they had other plans that night so I went to the service myself and did so for the rest of the week. I felt relaxed, picked up a hymn book and sang, no body looked at me, I felt less empty but more exited. I had found the door.
When the week of prayer ended I felt the emptiness coming back but I knew something had happened and I was not going to let it go I was part of God’s family I had gone through the door. I was part of His broader church, Jesus opened the door for me and I chose to drive through it. I decided to go to church and see a priest I told him my whole story of my life. I had not been to Mass in 20 – 30 years I wanted to come back to the church “what do I have to do”? The priest told me to buy a bible, a plain easy to read one and read the scriptures. When I told my family they were not happy with the idea. It was bad enough going to church but a bible in the house what would the neighbours say.
As time went on I went to church read the bible and changed my life around. I stopped swearing, stopped judging others I treated people the way I wanted them to treat me. Through the power of the Holy Spirit I was starting to live again. Prayer especially the Lord’s Prayer was a great help.
Jesus came to save the broken hearted, the hurting, people like me and maybe people like you.
Find the door - take a chance, it is your choice!
The sender of today’s reflection; has a recipe for almost anything and was rather ‘scholarly’ in a telling kind of a way.