I had seen him several times over several weeks.
I wanted to meet him.
I wanted to hear his story.
I found him studying at a nearby table. I gathered up the courage to go and talk with him.
With utmost sincerity and underlying joy, Jason shared his story with me.
I marvelled at his transparency. Authentic. Unabashadely real.
At 38, he sat across from me with no less than radiance.
His radiance was in deep contrast to the story he told.
Jason had lived life. A hard life. Drugs. Alcohol. Little snippets and memories he shared grafted together to reveal himself hardened, bitter, and rebellious.
There was a night that he lied to a passerby on the street and he was followed back to his home and attacked. With the flick of a finger, he outlines the faintest of scars.
Five years ago on an Easter Sunday, Jason attended church with a friend. He took communion. He knew he didn’t belong to the Catholic faith, but he participated nonetheless. He walked down the aisle to receive communion and felt that he was walking toward Jesus. He tells me with glory on his skin that when he took the bread that he ingested Jesus. When he took the drink, he drank Jesus.
The power of eating and drinking Jesus. The power of redemption on a Easter Sunday morning. Jason came home to his beautiful, rich faith.
He shares his story with anyone willing to listen. He works faithfully in the Church. In November, Jason received the opportunity to travel to Italy, visit the Vatican, and reside in a Benedictine Abbey.
I ask if he still struggles with the past addiction. In essence, Jason shares with me that he traded in his daily AA affirmations for a daily dose of Jesus. The structure, the routine, the tradition of Catholicism gives him day by day guidance and grace.
This January, Jason moved to Saint Gregory’s Abbey in Shawnee, Oklahoma. He hopes to one day become a monk.
I’m so excited to see the next steps. I’m excited to learn about the Benedictine monks. I’m excited to see the constant transformation in my friend. A friend who reminds me just how real Jesus is. That you and I can walk to Jesus. That you and I can carry the scars of the past and be beautiful. That you and I may be transformed by a holy power.