Tuesday, April 12, 2016

He Will Not Leave Me Alone

Yesterday I attended the funeral of a woman I hardly knew.  Patricia was the grandmother of Mike, the chairman of the organization I support which helps developmentally disabled adults.  Pat’s husband, a judge, had helped start the organization over 50 years ago.  Last month Mike and I were having a casual meeting in a local restaurant when Pat came in, surrounded by others of her family, and I was introduced to her.  We only spoke a moment, because it seemed as if everyone else there wanted to come forward and greet her warmly.  I had no idea.

Her funeral was much more well-attended than most.  Her large family of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren were there, but so were a number of priests and sisters and, surprisingly, a number of people I knew --- even my cleaning lady!!  I had no idea all these people knew Pat, and probably much better than me.

But, --- maybe not.

One of the many tributes voiced about Pat at her funeral mass was that she volunteered for almost 20 years at St. Christine’s soup kitchen.  I know of St. Christine’s.  I recalled it was about 20 years ago when the organization I chaired, Paint The Town, painted and repaired that rundown elementary school.  But it was in the adoration chapel late last night that I recalled how that all came about.

In the quiet, as I prayed the rosary, I recalled that there was a debate over committing to renovate St. Christine’s school.  We had already committed to painting and repairing hundreds of homes in the metro area that year and many thousands of volunteers were enthusiastically planning their work.  Adding St. Christine’s to our commitments would require a large amount of paint, supplies, --- and people.  Before making that decision, I personally toured the school --- which some said (privately to me) would be closed soon.  Then someone else provided new information:  “And they run a soup kitchen at the school, too.”  And I recalled thinking that even if the school did close likely the soup kitchen would continue.  And so it did.  That was the turning point in my mind, as I recalled it these many years later, and many enthusiastic volunteers came forth and did great work on St. Christine’s school.

As I prayed last night I came to the Fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary, the Presentation of the Baby Jesus in the Temple, and I read this mediation I wrote years ago:  “He will not leave me alone.”  Usually when I read those words I think of Jesus coming to His Father in the Temple, and my coming to adore Him even now in the chapel.  We are never alone in our trials; God is with us.  Those thoughts usually give me great comfort.  But last night, however, a new thought came to me.  Years ago I thought I was the ultimate decider about St. Christine’s fate, and I recalled worrying about that decision, and whether my commitment would be supported by others.  How little faith I had then: “He will not leave me alone.” 

I didn’t know it, (surprisingly God doesn’t confer with me in everything), but God and Pat were talking about a commitment to St. Christine’s at the same time.  And He didn’t leave either of us alone.

In recent years my local United Way has crept beyond our community boundaries, to help those in need in neighboring communities.  And as CFO I sign grant checks each year, to support the work of St. Christine’s soup kitchen.  Pat has gone home to her great reward, but I and others will help carry on her work, as she did mine.

He will not leave us alone.

When I made that decision about St. Christine’s I’m sure I felt alone, and I’m sure I did spend time asking God if this was His will.  I think all of us who seek to make a difference with our life pray that prayer.  We think our decisions are about things involving us.  “What should I do?” we pray.  Last night I was reminded that we are not alone in this world.  If we seek to do God’s will, He will bless our efforts --- in His way.  Even with people we do not know.

Often when I come to the chapel my prayer is: “Lord, what can I do for You?”  Last night He showed me what He can do for me.

Trust in Him and go forth, to make a difference with your life.  It may be your decision, but you won’t be alone.

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