Great reversals and new beginnings
Reflecting on the amazing reversals from Christ’s Passion and Crucifixion, into the season of the Resurrected Christ, it prompts thoughts on many others. May witnesses spring regrowth from winter dormancy; commemorates the miraculous survival of Pope St. John Paul II of an assassin’s bullet (on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima – May 13, 1981); the Ascension of Our Lord (May 25) in His triumphal reversal of sin and death; and the Feast of the Visitation (May 31), when Mary – instead of reveling in her role as expectant Mother of God – traveled to assist her cousin, Elizabeth, in her pregnancy with St. John the Baptist. Even at every Mass, there’s the Great Reversal of ordinary bread and wine into the Living Christ.
I’ve often reflected on life’s scenarios as key colorations of the larger tapestry. Some are role reversals, others attitudinal reversals.
In journalism school in the ‘80s, we were taught by a Philadelphia Daily News columnist who was tough to impress. She’d laugh at our assignments, and dissect students’ errors by ripping them aloud. “Now look at this,” she’d say, lighting up a piece on her overhead projector, “what a lousy lead.” There would be a classmate’s name in the corner, for the class to needle. Each time, fewer attended.
“How can you keep readers interested when you write like this!” She’d strike out sentences, paragraphs, and in lucky moments, cross out the page with her squeaky marker. Every class had this public scourging. If not for love of writing, it was fear that drove us to write our very best, hoping to dodge her shootout. Yet I silently admired her know-how, svelte shoulder-padded suits, silk scarves, executive jewelry and makeup – she exuded accomplishment and confidence. I wondered if I’d ever write a column.
Actually, it prepped us for many tough assessments – by ad agency clients, corporate bosses, and of course, editors. What we learned in Catholic school suddenly became relevant professionally: to listen, accept criticism whether just or unjust, and follow orders.
Now I’m a new editor for Legatus magazine – a great responsibility and incredible honor I embrace with gratitude and servitude. A dream come true, really.
I’d wanted to be a biomedical engineer, until I saw the courses. My dad was an engineer, I thought he’d approve. But I was overlooking the tiny reality that math and science were my weakest subjects, and English and religion my best. He sat me down and said, “But what do you like?” Simple answer: to write. That did it. Another dream come true – the end of calculus and chemistry.
We took dad into our home during his final years. Another role reversal – he needed our help, and we and our children needed his humor, wisdom, and closeness. And now that role is reversed again: he advocates and cares for us from beyond.
This past Lent – our toughest ever – I realized acceptance of our Cross (and it changes irritatingly often) is key to our faith. Persevering through life’s dead winters and deserts, through forced sacrifices and harsh reversals, God’s will unveils itself in a spectacular springtime for venturing anew.
CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s Managing Editor.