When we hear about someone whose words and lifestyle have influenced the lives of many people, we want to find out more about that person and if possible see him or her for ourselves. This might entail getting away from all the pressures that crowd in on us; risk being different; being willing to see things from a different perspective. And often that longed-for encounter – either in person or through that person’s writing or art – brings about a transformation in our lives. Zacchaeus’ story is our story and when he meets Jesus his experience of being loved unconditionally gives him an insight into who he really is in God and who everyone is in God.
“Tradition has passed on a beautiful story about Zacchaeus. It concerns his life after he had met Jesus in Jericho. Every morning, taking a bucket with him, he left his house and about an hour later he returned. Curious to know what he was doing, his wife followed one morning at a distance. She saw Zacchaeus go back to the tree from which Jesus had called him. He filled his bucket with water from a stream nearby, poured the water at the roots of the tree, spent some time in silence and then set off for home. When he returned home his wife asked what this ritual meant. ‘I go back to water the memories,’ he replied. Meeting Jesus was a very significant turning point in his life. It had changed him forever, giving a new direction and impetus to everything he undertook. It was so precious that he wanted to keep the memory alive and continue to be energised by the experience. He had learned the wisdom of watering memories that give inspiration and vision.” (Galway diocese website)
Our personal history of transformation is always linked to particular people, places and moments when least expected our inner being gazes in wonder at a new insight into Creation and to who we are and in whose image we are created. These moments are not limited to quiet times, nor restful environments. Time, place and situation may determine how long we can savour each moment, but each experience transforms us and expands our being. “Those special times of disclosure, of spiritual ‘peak moments’, of maybe fleeting and timeless experiences of ‘otherness’ are sacramental moments. They last forever because they touch eternity.”
Daniel O’ Leary