For Minor Miracles III (a)

It’s time for me to write about this blog and how it started and how it has continued. I have written on two previous occasions about “minor miracles,” one involving my father’s final days and one involving my beloved bride. (There are several more Katie mm’s I could recount, and I probably will before my blogging days are done.)
I was goaded into this post by Mary P., whose second comment on my St. Paul post of yesterday was too provocative to pass up.

In her first comment Mary began with St. Paul: It’s not like he got a book of instructions. . . . How do those of us waiting for that lightning strike figure out if something is God’s will? I’ve taken it to mean if you’re drawn to something, such as a particular action, but that action looks really challenging, but you can’t seem to get it off your mind, then God is probably calling you to do it. If you’re wrong, then God will make it pretty clear. 

In her second comment Mary wrote about this blog: You thought or heard or dreamed or SOMETHING and that started it. Your intention was different than what it is now. That doesn’t mean you didn’t or aren’t doing what God wanted/wants you to do, just because you thought you were doing it for another reason! Am I right that you hesitated when you realize the blog was morphing? Please understand I’m not picking on you, but you are the obvious example. The blog grew, and you began to see that it was having an effect on people that you never conceived when you started. Then Frank came onboard (did you think that was an accident? Not me!), and look at it now!

So, the bolt of lightning . . . or maybe . . .

Chapter 1 — The Breeze
I was in Maine with Katie in August, pretty much as you see me in the picture at the top of this post, a picture Katie took from her kayak. Yeah—relaxed, happy, open.

I had been thinking about starting a blog for my memoirs business. No techie myself, I had heard from a friend how easy it is to start a blog. So one day I logged on to Blogger.com and started Memoirs Unlimited, the blog. Clickers will find that there are all of 5 posts at that site, versus 280-some-odd posts and counting at YIM Catholic. Does that tell you something?

Back in the spring, I had been in touch with an old college friend, who I wrote about here. He’s #5 and #13 on the list. My friend asked me why I had converted and I had no ready answer. But being a writer I promised him I would write him some short essays about my conversion experience. Which I did, for his eyes only.

Two posts into my Memoirs Unlimited blog, the lightning bolt hit, although it was more like a gentle breeze from the open window of the bedroom where I set up my writing shop when we are in Maine. The breeze said, “That’s not what you want to do. You want to write about your conversion experience. And you’ve already written the first three posts, including one about the book that started it all, by Fr. James Martin.”

Now, here’s the beauty part. That thought made me pretty happy, so I logged onto Blogger and hit the start-new-blog button. As before, with Memoirs Unlimited, Blogger asked me what I wanted to name my blog, which would establish the unique URL. I stared at the screen, then typed: Catholic Convert. Blogger informed me that Catholic Convert was already taken, dummy. I typed something else equally generic, like New Catholic. That was already taken too, stupid. I typed two or three more ideas, was rejected each time, then stopped for a moment: What do I want to write about? I want to write about why I am a Catholic. . . . Well, obviously we have to come up with something oddball to beat this overloaded system. Then I thought: Acronym. Or maybe it was: Rebus. Or maybe there was no thought at all. I typed: YIMCatholic. Blogger dinged at me: Congratulations! You have a blog! Begin entering content!

Within minutes, the consequences of this chain of events hit me: If the title is “Why I Am Catholic,” every post will have to be an answer of sorts. That hit me like inspiration. Not my inspiration, I can promise you that. I did not think through the consequences before choosing the blog title. The consequences were there.

Chapter 2 —The Lightning Bolt
That was August 17, 2009. Over the first ten days, I posted eight times, including three of the essays I had written for my friend. I was very happy, almost giddy, writing some of these posts, but I thought I was running dry. Then, on the evening of the tenth day, while back home in Massachusetts for some business meetings, I received this e-mail:

Dear Mr. Bull,
Many thanks for your beautiful post,
which a friend passed along to me.
I’m delighted that my book helped
you so much, and so happy that the saints
have been your patrons and companions
in your journey into the church.
Welcome!
Jim Martin, SJ

I was flabbergasted. I had no idea anyone was even reading YIM Catholic. Honestly, I had next to no ambition about it, except to send each post to Katie, our daughters, Father Barnes, and three friends in the parish, Ferde, Carol, and Ellen. I thought that was my readership, give or take a lonely late-night Web surfer in Altoona.

If there was any lightning bolt in this story, that was it, the e-mail from Fr. Jim in New York. I called Katie in Maine the following morning and gasped. She gasped back.

Chapter 3 — The Ego Trip
Chapter 4 — The Crisis of Faith
Chapter 5 — The Crazy Marine from the Old South Who May Be An Angel Or Something
Chapter 6 — Building a Community

To be continued . . .

  • Anonymous

    Warren: Among the many things that have impressed me about your blog is how diverse the readers are geographically. I have friends with blogs and it seems no one outside their circle of friends is reading.How have folks found out about this blog? Googling? word of mouth?

  • Webster Bull

    Anonymous, two things: First, it's Webster, not Warren. (I'm not offended, you're not the first; I just don't want Warren Jewell taking over here!! LOL/ROFLMAO)Second, in answer to your question: I have no idea. The Holy Spirit? An international Communist conspiracy? I do know that adding Frank has been very important, broadening the blog not only geographically but also beyond my personal limits. But where did that inspiration come from? (See Chapter 5)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01037555111680888247 Janet

    Well, I got here by a very round-about means. Fred posted a comment on a blog that I read (Well, read doesn't really say it–inhabit is more like it). And then I got to looking around at Fred's stuff and there was a link to this blog on one of them, and I saw the Mere Christianity discussion and that was it. Oh, I also noticed the scripture from Ephesians, which I have hanging right above my computer at work and the "inhabitant of the Old South."AMDG

  • El Bollio Tejano

    Webster, Funny how the Holy Spirit leads you down a path that you never expected. Almost certainly, you never imagined the multitude of "participants" in this endeavor. Interstingly, you have expanded your "faith family" from your local parish to something much more broad and unique. One of the reasons I see for the success of this blog is your search for the multitude of "good", "truth", and "beauty" of the Church. Our faith has had more cultural impact on the world than any other institution, and your blog captures that richness. If you ever travel to Catholic Countries like Italy, Ireland, France and SpainWe are a faith of the table. Our meals are celebrated with wine, homecook meals, stories, and laughter. We are joy filled people, who love to SHARE. That is the culture of your blog, Webster.

  • Mary P.

    I am humbled, Webster. But I feel like an idiot. Maybe the "voice" that called you is explained, posted at the very top of your blog? Could God have used your friend to prompt you in this effort? It is obvious to me that God is using you and your talents for His good. And when satan had been hard at work on you, almost tempting you to quit, the Good Lord sent you his Grace and His guidance, that allowed you to overcome those difficulties (Chapter 4)? Or was the notice of Fr. Martin, for example, a mere coincidence? I don't believe it.It amazes me at how some people will credit "The Universe" for intervention in their lives, and not believe in God himself. I do not believe in coincidences. But I will sit back and read your remarkable words as you explain how you have been an instrument for the Good Lord! And do my best to follow your example in ways that He sees fit.

  • Tammy

    This is some really good stuff! I can't wait for Chapter 3!

  • http://ladyhobbit.livejournal.com/ ladyhobbit

    I'm so curious as to why you mentioned Altoona! The one in Pennsylvania? How many Altoonas can there be?

  • Webster Bull

    Many thanks to The Anchoress, Catholic blogger non-pareil Elizabeth Scalia, for linking to this post.

  • Warren Jewell

    New blog name!"Saint Webster, and that thorn in his side named variously but sometimes Frank or Warren or – well – Mary, or Al-the-Tuna out of et cetera, or Anonymous, or even Paul formerly Saul, or His Utter Majesty, the Holy Spirit."Whatever you call it, you have done well, good and faithful servant of God. I have chosen to not have my blog, but everyone elses' I could haunt. Works for me.God have mercy on those whose blogs I find.

  • Webster Bull

    Warren, YOu are the Jewell in the YIMC crown, no question. You're probably better off as a rogue commenter on others' blogs becuase if you started your own blog, you might never log off. But please stick around these parts. Frank and I love your comments, and I still say the first YIMC Road Trip has to begin in Chicago!