by Michael Ketterhagen
I love you the way you are.
Oh! I love you the way you are.
--Bobby Vinton song
While a freshman and sophomore in college at St Francis de Sales Seminary, I used to walk from my dorm room through the clear, crisp morning air to the chapel to prepare for the regular morning Catholic Eucharistic liturgy. I was a sacristan and it was my job to make sure that all the teacher-priests had everything ready for their morning Masses and to set things up for when the other seminarians would enter the chapel for the day’s morning Mass.
Even though there was sometimes a brisk breeze coming off Lake Michigan just East of the seminary grounds, I felt energized and excited for the coming day. Joy seemed to fill my life. So much so, that I would often break into song. Spontaneously, I would begin to sing an old Bobby Vinton song, “I love you the way you are,” making up my own lyrics as I walked on--“Thank you, my God, for giving me this day. Thank you, for all the things you say, to me through this life and all that will come during my coming day.” Then I would go back to the chorus, loudly proclaiming, “Oh, I love you the way you are. I love you, I love you, the way you are!”
I was singing to God.
I would sing about the events of yesterday and those that I anticipated coming on this new day. It would be a marvelous time between God and myself. Sometimes, I would coin some verses that sounded as though they were coming directly from God himself. It was a joyous time in the clear morning, solitary environment off Lake Shore Drive, in St Francis, Wisconsin.
Lately, I have been waking up with that same song on my mind. I’m not alone now, though. Mary is with me, so I don’t belt out loud the chorus and my homemade lyrics, but the same joy is there. Then, I realize that it doesn’t matter what I do that day or how I am feeling physically, I know that I am loved the way I am.
It’s been a long time since I’ve felt that unconditional love, that worthiness by some deep internal Spirit, letting me know that no matter who I am or what I may want to do or what I may do or may have done. I am loved “the way I am.”
Then, I realize that everyone is loved the way they are by their internal Spirit, the Divinity within them. I long for all to know that just as I have felt and know that, lately. As Louis Armstrong sings, “What a wonderful world this would be.”
I pray to the Divinity within You!