I wasn’t planning to devote the whole week to Christopher Wests’s new book, At the Heart of the Gospel, but I had to post this. After reading my book review, Richard Evans shared a moving story in the comment box. He gave me permission to post it here:
“I heard Christopher speak two times when I first returned to the Church, approximately one year apart, and I spoke to him briefly at the first event. Over a year later at the next one, which was more of an an in-depth seminar, I approached him again to ask a question during a break. His first words, before I even said anything, were “I remember you.” I’m not that memorable! But he remembered me.
I asked him my real question, which had to do with SSA (same-sex attraction) and how the ‘theology of the body’ fits in with that–and it surely does. I mentioned that it was/is a struggle for me, but it was his reaction to me, not his answer in particular, that I wish to share: he just stretched out his arms, held me silently, and wouldn’t let go–this man, with another man, in a public place, gave the most loving embrace I can ever recall receiving.
There was nothing erotic about his overt demonstration of love, obviously, and no preaching or heavy advice from him of how to “clean up my demons” or whatever. Just pure love soaking into me from a pure man of God, and making me more of a man, not less.
No hesitation, no embarrassment, no wishing me to “shut up and go away.” And those are all reactions I’ve heard at times. The vast majoriy are very kind to me, but sometimes people act all “inspired” and then keep me at arm’s length. And a person with SSA can tell when that is happening, I assure you.
It was this gesture from Christopher that convinced me, more than his books or seminars, of the truth of the ‘theology of the body’ and its cleansing and healing power when put into practice. Later, when the criticisms came and he was on sabbatical during those months, I managed to write a note which got to him and reminded him of this incident–and to thank him for it, something I had never really done. Weeks later, I heard back from him and he shared with me how healing my simple note had been to him during that crucial time for him. So in a very small way I was able to return the favor.
This is the kind of man he is. He will always be my hero for these and many other reasons. He loves our Lord immensely and it shows. I look forward to this book.”