He intrigued me. A tall man with an athletic build. His unhurried gaze fixed intensely on the shore line. His back bent low as if to reverence the pebbles on the beach. Occasionally he extends his hand to pick up an obviously - to him at least - exceptional find. On more than one occasion I observed this ritual. Today, I asked him what it was about. I learned that Stan is an artist who makes jewelry from “beach glass” - ordinary, broken fragments of glass made beautiful by years of rough and tumble transformation amidst the waves and pebbles. Where others saw just ordinary stones on a beach, Stan discerned unexpected treasures, the makings of his next masterpiece.
Stan reminded me of Don Bosco, whose birthday bicentennial we celebrate on August 16, 2015. The beach glass of Don Bosco’s seeking was young people. He sought the human development and eternal salvation of ordinary, broken youth, often discarded or unnoticed, unappreciated or misunderstood, frightened and insecure, always hungry for purpose, love, meaning and a reason to live. He offered them a rough and humble transformation through genuine relationships, friendship with Jesus, trust in the grace of the sacraments, the value of diligent work, responsible service and wholesome recreation.
Even after a near fatal illness provoked by his excessive zeal in the service of the young and the poor, Don Bosco made this pledge to those who prayed him back to health: “For you I study, for you I work, for you I am ready even to give my life”.
However rough a young life might appear, Don Bosco teaches me to reverence it with a bow and to contemplate it with the eyes of the Master Artist, Jesus. In the name of Jesus, Don Bosco gathered the young, welcomed them and dedicated his entire life to them. Where others saw just ordinary kids in the streets, Don Bosco discerned unexpected treasures, the makings of his next masterpiece. Calling forth their human giftedness he allows them to shine with their unique likeness unto God. Don Bosco intrigues me.
Written by Father Michael Pace SDB, Pastor, guest blogger.