Some people don’t believe in miracles. Other people see little miracles every day.
I try to be that second kind of person, but sometimes God has to bang a drum to get my attention.
During the holidays, I broke my wrist and had to wait 10 days for surgery. So, in addition to weeks of post-surgery healing, I waited days languishing in an unwieldy splint applied haphazardly at the emergency room.
If you’ve ever tied your dominant arm behind your back (and why would you?), you know the helpless feeling.
I asked the Lord to help me make something positive of this, but I’m impatient.
Then, online, I noted a young Jesuit mentioning “Brother Curry’s” influence on his life. That name sounded familiar, so I researched him. What an inspiration.
Richard Curry was born in Philadelphia in 1943 without a right forearm. Pictures show an adorable baby, but his good Catholic parents were devastated. His dad spent the day in a bar.
But Rick Curry became a Jesuit brother and turned what others might see as a “handicap” into an extraordinary gift for helping others. Drum banging softly, I realized I was being asked to see my right arm situation for the relatively minor bump it was.
But much more than that, then-Father Curry, who died in 2015, reminded me that in the eyes of God we are all beautiful just the way we are. We’re “enough.”
It’s a real miracle, sometimes, to truly grasp that.
His story reminds me of a quote frequently attributed to St. Ignatius of Loyola: “Most people have no idea what God would make of them if they would only place themselves at his disposal.”
Father Curry changed the world for countless people by showing them their giftedness. He founded the National Theater Workshop for the Handicapped, where thousands of people with disabilities have participated in performances and workshops. He earned a doctorate in theater, and founded the Wounded Warriors Writers Workshop and the Academy for Veterans to promote healing and storytelling.
According to The New York Times, he helped found a bakery for veterans, and wrote two cookbooks, including “The Secret of Jesuit Breadmaking.”
And, although he was once laughed out of an audition for a mouthwash commercial because he was missing an arm, he later appeared in an episode of the television series “Monk.” This good-natured, good-hearted Jesuit had the last laugh.
In 2009, he became a priest. Why not earlier? During ordination, the right thumb and forefinger are anointed. Father Curry needed a dispensation, and the story goes he sought one only after an amputee came to him for counseling and absolution.
Father Curry explained that he couldn’t grant a formal absolution because he hadn’t been called to the priesthood.
“Why not,” the man demanded. “Who calls you?”
Father Curry explained that God and the Christian community calls.
“Well, I’m calling you,” the man proclaimed.
Maybe this was God banging a drum for Father Curry.
When Rick Curry was in first grade, a famous relic — the preserved right arm of Jesuit co-founder, St. Francis Xavier — visited Philly. Jesuit Father James Martin recounts that his future confrere was taken to see it by his mom. His classmates thought the boy might experience a miracle.
But his sister said she was glad no miracle occurred, because “I like you the way you are.”
How did those words affect Curry’s life going forward? Think of opportunities we have to say to someone else, like Rick Curry did all his life, “I like you just the way you are.”
Often, we need to say that to ourselves, rather than measuring ourselves by the world’s standards.
You’re enough. Just the way you are.
Effie Caldarola is a wife, mom and grandmother who received her master’s in pastoral ministry from Seattle University.
Top photo: Jesuit Father Rick Curry is pictured in a 2007 photo. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)