Saturday was a day of milestones for me.
A fellow seminarian decided to take me and one other in his truck out to his hometown of St. John, Indiana, in the Diocese of Gary. Our goal was to visit the Shrine of Christ’s Passion, a half-mile trail with a life-size Stations of the Cross. They were absolutely stunning, and I encourage you all to visit there at some point. Check out the website here if you’re interested: http://www.shrineofchristspassion.org/. We also visited his home parish of St. John the Evangelist. They recently built a new church in order to house the ever-growing parish, and we visited both the old and new. Both of them were absolutely incredibly beautiful, and I enjoyed every minute of it. However, what affected me the most may have been the one thing I least expected. But isn’t that how God always works?
St. John, Indiana, is now officially the farthest I have ever been west of Cincinnati. A milestone for me. It was also just the second time I have ever been in a different time zone. And the closest I have ever been to the state of Illinois.
While there, we made a stop at a Chicago-style Hot Dog stand, and there I had my first ever Chicago-style dog. It was quite good too.
But perhaps the most powerful experience of the entire journey for me was that it was my first time ever seeing the Meadow Lake Wind Farm from I-65 North.
For those of you who, like me three days ago, have never seen or even heard of the Wind Farm, it is basically an enormous field with hundreds of those white windmills you always see on TV and stuff. In the past, I had never really thought much of them. Sure they are great ways of making energy with little to no harm to the environment. Great. I’m all for it.
But what really did it for me was the sheer beauty of seeing hundreds and hundreds of towering windmills along the highway. I cannot even express it! It’s something you should all see for yourselves. As I continue to discern my vocation from God in this life, the windmills were a perfect reminder to me to continue to live a life of humble obedience to God.
I am just a small boy in this enormous world. When one is struck by the sight of a hundred giant windmills, their arms twisting and turning and whirling and twirling in the wind towards you, one suddenly feels very, very small. And intimidated. One of the reasons it was so humbling for me was the symbolic metaphor of windmills in my own life.
As a child, my grandparents had a video of an animated retelling of Don Quixote for children. My grandfather always loved, “Man of La Mancha,” and I learned to play, “To Dream the Impossible Dream,” on the piano just for him. But the story bears so much more meaning to me now.
In Chapter 8 of the first part of the novel written by Miguel Cervantes, Don Quixote sees a field of windmills, and driven by his own delusions of grandeur, believes them to be giants. He then promptly charges into battle with them, though he is easily defeated, and sent sprawling from his horse and crashing into the ground. Pop culture has deemed this practice, “tilting at windmills.”
I am very much like the poor man of La Mancha. I am prone to tilt at windmills, and my grandfather knows this. He has often made this reference to me many times, but only know do I see just how much it applies. I need to stop trying to fight the windmills in my life, the things I see myself capable of conquering. It’s time to turn my windmills over to God. If I conquer these windmills at all, it will not be of my own strength, and it will not be for my own glory.
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.