Pickle Jar



I never thought that a pickle jar could have changed my life.

I was eleven years old. I had been raised Catholic, but faith at home consisted primarily in Sunday Mass and saying prayers just before bedtime - that was about it. Then my Mom had a conversion by giving her life to God by praying the Catholic version of a prayer of surrender. She changed immediately.

She began to pray constantly, not locked away in a room or a chapel, but amidst all the tasks of daily life: laundry, cooking, shopping. She would constantly ask Jesus for help, and he seemed to answer. There was joy and excitement. She was in love.

Being an only child this naturally intrigued me. It was fascinating to see the change, and I was still too young to protest or be skeptical. Nevertheless, even at that age I intuitively realized that I had to make my own journey. I had to encounter God. However, until I witnessed the change in my Mom, I didn’t even know something was missing. Faith meant ‘saying prayers.’ I now saw in my Mom that it meant a relationship with God, which changes everything.

Enter the pickle jar.

One afternoon my Mom was about to open a pickle jar and thought to herself: ‘Surely I don’t need God’s help to open a jar, I can do that myself.’ But she couldn’t open it, so she asked me to help. ‘You hold; I’ll twist.’ No luck. ‘I’ll hold; you twist.’ No luck. Let’s grab it with the towel.’ No luck. ‘Let’s try hot water.’ No luck. ‘Bang it on the counter.’ No luck. Even the jar wrench didn’t work. After about 10 minutes of effort, we were out of breath for trying. She turned to me and said, ‘Maybe we should say a prayer.’ So we began, ‘Hail Mary… Amen.’ Immediately and effortlessly the jar opened.

No, it’s not the parting of the Red Sea, but it was a key moment in my faith journey. I realized that God is real, that God answers prayers, even mine, even with things as insignificant as opening a jar. God cares about me. He notices.

This experience was accompanied by many other ‘coincidences’ through which I learned to see his hand, his providential care in my life. But it was the pickle jar experience that taught me to look for him in daily life.

And that has changed my life.

Fr. John Bullock, LC

November 10, 2018

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