2018 — IV Theology

Dc. Keith Higginbotham, St. Anne Church, North Little Rock

Attends St. Meinrad Seminary, Indiana

Whenever I think about where my vocation started, my mind always goes back to the first few exciting seconds of recess. What would I do? My eyes would take in the options: basketball? tag? the jungle gym? the big metal slide?

That's when I would notice a classmate under the slide crying. My heart would move me towards people like him and my recess would be spent helping them. It was in moments like that God helped me to notice his people and he would teach me about love.

As should be expected, I've grown some since the years of recess and jungle gyms. I have realized that the sort of ministry I was trying to do on the playground is much more complicated than it seemed then.

I was convinced as a kid that nothing was ever as bad as it seemed. Therefore, I thought my job was just a matter of fixing the situation by offering the bright side with simple encouragement or advice. I have discovered, however, that there is suffering in the world that is very real and can’t be fixed or ignored. That is why a priest is a pastor.

He leads his people to water, but is not the water himself. The challenge is to not get in the way of the work God is trying to do through me. That means a lot of work, both on myself to be a pure vessel and in practice to have the know-how and experience to serve the people I love.

When I say I have to get out of the way, I mean that I need to get out of Christ’s way. Surely, you have to know the one to whom you are leading people. How then has my own relationship with Christ grown? If I have learned anything about my relationship with Christ, it is that it's a slow growing process.

Prayer is tough and requires patience. St. Teresa of Avila said you need determined determination to get to know the Lord. Just as God wants us to be patient and determined in prayer, He, too, is patient and determined. To answer the question, my relationship with Christ is one of profound patience.

Not that I'm perfectly patient, but I am astonished and so very grateful for the patience that God has with me. That patience is a wonderful expression of his love. I am not only grateful for God’s patience with me, but I am grateful for his love expressed by his wonderful people.

The people of the Diocese of Little Rock are filled with love and it is obvious in the way they take care of the Church in Arkansas. They are so very generous, a quality seen both in their actions and in their eyes and voices when you talk to them. I thank God for his people in Arkansas.

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