Sunday, August 29, 2010

Thinking about heroes - Momma and Sally

I am sure we all have heroes in our lives. People who have inspired us at a particular time, for a particular reason. There are sports heroes, action heroes, volunteer work heroes, spiritual heroes. At one time or another I think I have had people in mind who might fit those various categories.

The heroes that impress me more and more as I get older, are those who first of all would wonder who you were referring to, if you called them heroes. People, who, secondly, no matter what their struggles, impress as just plain good people. Persons who, finally, lived their life with a deep faith and both showed it and said it. Some of these are public and well known - such as Jean Vanier, Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul ll. Who are the ones in our lives that will never attain that kind of notoriety? Those are the ones I take delight in thinking about. Those are the ones who truly inspire me to be better than I am.

I have written many times about my first hero - first, as in top of the list. That would be Momma Gus, an 80+ year old woman of colour whom we met in the U.S., and who grew up in Mississippi. Her wisdom and her spiritual counsel were so simple and so wonderful at the same time, that I could listen to her all day. Never preachy, just witnessing to her own powerful faith in an all-loving God. Telling us (my wife and I) many times that she was 'ready to go into glory' whenever her God called her. Reminding us that we needed to pray. I took all that away from our many conversations, and because of the deep personal conviction I was hearing, it all moved me and stayed with me.

I have a new hero. Sally Saunders died last night, after a big battle with cancer. I have had the privilege of watching her faith grow over the years, to the point that when everything was on the line with her health, she too turned with complete trust, to the God who, she realized, has brought her through life this far with many blessings. Blessings. Not curses. Not bitterness. Not why me? Like Momma, she told me that she had placed all this in God's hands. Like Momma, her faith did not come from reading theology or going to learned lectures. It came from believing the Gospel, believing the promises made by Jesus. It came from trusting Jesus.

My goodness, how we falter in that area, I think. I speak for myself here, anyway. You do your own reflection. Faltering is often not a conscious turning away from God. It is rather not being turned toward God. And so we get very down, we get angry, we get bitter. We are blessed indeed when we have the sudden awareness that this is what has been happening with us. We can change direction. Always we can change direction. That is what is so wonderful about this relationship we have with Jesus. He keeps inviting, and he keeps waiting.

And without our even knowing it, he sends people into our lives to kick start the awareness. If we have eyes to see, let us see. That is all the thanks our heroes would want.

And today I thank God for the Momma's and the Sally's of this world. Rest in peace good and faithful ladies.

Friday, August 13, 2010

More time? The phenomenon of evolving priorities.

I cannot believe how time is flying! When I was a very young kid, I recall thinking that the summer break was actually a year long. When I learned it was only two months, I was so dismayed I think I felt like I was smothering!

Now as an older guy who is theoretically semi-retired, angst about the short time to the beginning of the new school year is merely an old memory. What is getting my attention now are comments from golfing buddies to the effect 'Why aren't you getting out more?' Aren't you supposed to have more time on your hands now?

Truth is I am beginning to learn what I have heard over and over from retirees - they are busier than ever! And I am still only semi-retired.

I truly thought that I all I would do in any free time I had after I closed my office, would be to play golf. The thing is, priorities begin to shift. There are projects around the house, there are new opportunities to spend time with people in ministry. And there is a whole lot of catching up to do for all that time taken from a very patient wife over the years. Time spent at meetings, time writing reports. I find that it is delightful beyond what the every day world would have led me to believe, to spend time with this wonderful person who has said she would be with me through thick and thin. And she has done all of that. Now my turn, happily.

But the rearranging of priorities will continue, and that includes ensuring time for this Blog, which I so eagerly looked forward to having.

Right now, I share with you a link that has a funny but ever so serious message - about the Church in post-Vatican ll times. Copy and paste into your browser, than see what you think. Meantime I hope you are enjoying your summer.