Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Does My Life Matter?
I think that’s a question we all ask ourselves at one time or another. Does it matter that I’m alive? Now first, to state the obvious, those words are not those of a saint. Those are the words of someone who is looking for something, but does not yet see it. They are the words of someone still on their faith journey --- but so are we all! No man is in heaven until he gets there, and it will not happen here on earth. And here on earth we will sometimes pause and look around us and notice: “I’m not going anywhere. I’m not making any progress. Does what I’m doing here matter?”
There are two important points to note when you find yourself in this situation --- well, actually three. The first I already stated: We’re all at that point sometime in our lives; do not think this is about you. It’s about us. The second point is that if you are not going forward, you need to do something. If you are sitting on a bike, you need to start pedaling. If you are in a car, you need to take your foot off the brake and put it on the gas. And if you are standing in front of God, you need to find His will for you. You need to pray, to ask. You need to read, to know more about what He usually asks people to do, and to consider those things He did. And you need to listen, because He said: “I will always be with you” --- and God doesn’t lie.
Your starting forward, making a difference in your life and those around you, starts with your taking action. Advent is a good time to start on this.
But there is a third point regarding our feelings of making no progress or of unimportance, and it is a point we often don’t think about, and one which I wish to focus on: We often forget about all the progress that we HAVE made. And it is important that we remember.
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I’ve known Sister Margaret Mary, Sister Peg, for perhaps twenty years. She joined a religious order which cared for mentally-challenged young people, largely, because of her experiences with her brother, whom she loved deeply. I met Sr. Peg at the nearby facility where she worked. I once took her and another sister to a Michigan football game, in the U of M stadium with 100,000 other fans. The two sisters were dressed in their black garb on a warm sunny fall day. And did they cheer! Their enthusiasm helped offset the noticeably reduced noise (and cursing) around me versus a typical game day.
But Sr. Peg’s order has locations around the country, and too soon she moved. I visited her once when she was stationed in Chicago for a few years, but she continued to move wherever she was sent. Besides the occasional email, our contact was largely around Christmas, when I tried to send her a book or two, or something needed for those she cared for.
Since I hadn’t heard from her since last Christmas, I recently sent her an email, asking how she is, WHERE she is, and would she like a book or two this Christmas. She responded:
"You come to mind often and especially when I re-use your books. I am doing well and ministering to the elderly now, by running a day program for them. I enjoy it very much.
(She gave me her address in Rhode Island.)
Let us keep in touch. I often think of our sharing that Michigan football game :-) That was a highlight of my life. God bless you. Sr. Peg”
I recall Sr. Peg fondly. We weren’t close friends, and even when she worked nearby I infrequently met her or had an occasional meal with her. Once I took her and some of her young charges to a charity dinner; I remember the looks on their faces in that hall full of people, and how thrilled they were when they found out there was music after dinner. I think they all danced every dance. Sr. Peg was a friend to me, like so many casual friends we all have, just someone I knew. But it may be that Sr. Peg viewed things differently. I often went out to dinner; I had many friends; I went to many sporting events, and concerts and plays and all sorts of big gatherings.
But for Sr. Peg, that one Michigan football game she went to was a highlight of my life. Something I rarely remembered might be a treasured photo in the album of her life.
“Does My Life Matter?” I think that sometimes I have feelings that my life does not matter to ME; it seems so unimportant. But looking at my life from Sr. Peg’s viewpoint --- it might be a highlight in hers. Peg told me her feelings in that note. How many people have feelings about YOU that haven’t put it in writing? How many people have you influenced, and while your memories of them faded, theirs of you have not? Remember the classic Christmas story, A Wonderful Life? Remember all the lives which would have been changed if George had never existed?
YOU are a George. Your life mattered in the past; it will matter in the future. Think some on these things; don’t let where you are at emotionally now dictate your future. God has plans for you. This is Advent, a time of looking forward toward Christmas, when He comes. Prepare! He will come to you also.
And if you get some time, think back on all those people who would think that YOU mattered in their lives. It might be a good time to drop them a card, to let them know you are still thinking of them.
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This is an addendum to this post. Three days after I made this post I was cleaning house in anticipation of Christmas guests. The corner table had stood with piles of papers untouched for quite a while --- longer than I had imagined. Near the bottom I found a little greeting card, with these words:
Have a Blessed & Merry Christmas and New Year.
This Rosary Ring (which was attached) is blessed by Our Holy Father on 10/23/11, the canonization of St. Louis Guanella, Our Founder.
I received the books and will open them on Christmas Day. You are too good!! : - )
Dear Tom, I pray that the Christ Child may fill you w/His Peace, Joy, and Love. Thank you for your friendship and love shown in many a way. I keep you and your mom in my prayers.
I guess this is just further proof that all life matters, and how blessed I am --- and perhaps how much I need to be reminded of this.