Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 28, 2005
Her daughter sees God in a streetperson
Author witnessed how her teenager's pure heart protected her
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
"The pure of heart see God," Kathleen Chesto told about 200 Catholic school trustees and superintendents. An author, Chesto was keynote speaker for the 2005 Alberta Catholic School Trustees' Association annual general meeting on Nov. 19.
A mother of three, Chesto holds a doctorate in ministry and has written several books on spirituality and family life.
She is in the midst of completing a video series on the history of the sacraments.
Gift of truth
"The pure of heart have a gift of truth. The peacemakers have wisdom. They know the truth is bigger than they are," she said.
"Pure of heart looks through all the trappings. It isn't deceived by our own expectations or biases," Chesto said. "A pure heart looks through all of that."
Purity can be misleading because some Catholics too often link it with sex, she said.
Not so in the Beatitudes. Chesto said to walk with a sincere purpose and with purity is to journey with the Beatitudes.
The author said it is important to awaken our spirits through prayer, to recognize our gifts and blessings and live the life God wants for us.
She saw this happen in her own life when she journeyed to New York to visit her young daughter Liz.
Liz had moved into New York City with dreams of becoming an actress.
She befriended an elderly, homeless man who convinced the then 17-year-old to call her mother during a particular moment of loneliness.
Chesto took a bus from her comfortable rural Connecticut home into New York.
She met Liz and they ventured to Washington Square that Chesto described as "a pretty dangerous place, particularly at night."
Liz took her mother through her day, which usually ends after 2 a.m. when the library closes.
Liz walks home alone.
"My heart was in my throat and I didn't want to let her know how frightened I was. She was still adjusting to the city."
Early one morning, the women went to Liz's favourite coffee shop.
They stepped over a man sleeping beside the entrance.
They sat down and began sipping hot chocolate.
Chesto still felt a need to tell her daughter that what she was doing was terribly unsafe.
Paying the cheque, Liz ordered a cup of coffee to go - black. Chesto knew her daughter did not drink coffee.
What was she up to?
They walked outside and stepped over the same man, but Liz turned around and bent down.
'George, good morning'
She shook him gently and said, "George, good morning. Here's your coffee, just the way you like it."
Liz stood up and began walking but Chesto was frozen with surprise, and stood looking down at the sleepy-eyed man.
Chesto said the man sized her up in a second flat. He knew exactly what was happening.
"He shook his finger at me and said I have a good girl, there.
'We are watching out for her on these streets,' he said.
"The very people I was afraid of were my daughter's guardian angels," Chesto explained.
"Where the rest of us look and see danger, the pure of heart see God."
Beware the naysayers
Those who truly live their blessings will be criticized for doing so. People will try to eat away at a person's confidence, she said.
But is it really so terrible to have a kind heart, to not be thick skinned?
Absolutely not, Chesto suggests.
"A critic can't see that you don't do things to make a difference.
"You do it because you can't not do it.
"You are one who hungers and thirsts for justice," she said.
"Listen to your critics because they will tell you more about yourself than a friend ever will."
If a person has yet to discover his own blessing, he can listen to his internal critic.
Just be gentle.
"Your greatest gift is the reverse of your greatest fault.
"We are pretty good at listing our faults. God made us the way we are to find the gifts inside the faults.
"Jesus said we have to find time to pray. It is the greatest gift we can give ourselves.
"It is prayer that renews and awakens our spirits."