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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

On Visiting Grandma, Fragility and Passing Moments

[I will be away from the blog until July 9th.]

The last week has been an overload. Lately that is the norm, or so it seems. We are discerning candidates for the position of Associate here and I have chosen to involve the entire parish in the process. We are blessed with many good candidates, which means I am going to disappoint many good people. I wish my parish was bigger so I could hire several. One thing I am keenly aware of is how limited I am. I realize that I am making choices which affect the lives of many people and I am not sure that I know what is best. It is hard to predict the future. I take comfort in prayer and trusting God, but I know that that does not mean everything will be fine.

Last week Grandma K was in town. She got to do lots of time with our youngest, who is a remarkable mix of delays and advances. Watching her delight in his amazing abilities was a joy. Watching her attentiveness to his serious limits was heart warming. He really took to her and provided lots of laughs. Her presence is always a reminder of my dad, who died Memorial Day weekend in 1999. Suddenly, he is dead a very long time. We shared stories of him, and one I recall was his sense of being "worried" as he aged. I remember it because I seem to have the same feeling more and more myself the last few years. It is not rational. It just is. I guess the fragility of human beings becomes clearer as we pass the half century mark.

My mother died several years before my dad, so my parents are both dead. She never saw any of my kids (in the flesh). [Yet God provides and so there is a Grandma.] Fragility of health was something both of my parents exhibited since I was young. Numerous times death made itself a house guest, only to leave without reaping. St. Benedict says to keep death always before you. That was no problem in a home where we were regularly told one parent or the other may die soon. Funny, when it finally happened I was surprised. I got used to 'almost dying' as a perpetual condition.

Life passes quickly. Sort of like summer is flying by. We visit and then get on a plane and in a couple hours are hundreds of miles away reoriented to a new place with new folks. As I sit typing this I know that July 9, so far off in the future will be here in a snap of a finger. Each day is added to the memories pile (and most of these days disappear in the mist of days gone by). We recall so little of what happens. I look forward to finding out what the purpose of it all is (some day).

Praying and reading the Bible, I constantly remind myself that the salvation history (culminating in the incarnation and mission of  Jesus) consists of the same "stuff" as my life. Births and deaths, meals and work, sleeping, crying, laughing. Momentary encounters which are unremarkable and instantly forgotten unless actively called to mind. People connections which are so real only to disappear with a kiss good bye and a "see you next time!" And endless important decisions and hours of "worry" (which people worried about their own concerns tell you 'not to worry about') which morph into new problems and opportunities.

It all passes. Our task is to fill each day with "a life worthy of our calling" focused first on Jesus and His kingdom. We must fill our heart with the reminder that we are all a mixed bag of delayed development and advanced. We are all a contradictory composition of self centered and God centered living. We are all fragile and temporary. And God loves us all. And our destiny is in the heart and hands of God; so enjoy the ride...

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