Sunday, January 1, 2017

I Remember When ...

I was on the way to the adoration chapel on New Year’s Eve for my usual Saturday night hour when I heard the radio talk show host offer a suggestion that I very much appreciated.
On New Year’s Eve we often gather together to celebrate the New Year, to welcome in “better times”.  And if we talk about the past year at all, it is often to celebrate the end to bad events which troubled our minds.  The radio host noted, however, that every year has its blessings, and those we often forget and forget to give thanks for, so she offered the following suggestion:
Every week (Sunday preferred), gather together as a family and identify one thing you are thankful for in the past week.  Write it down on a piece of paper and put it in a large glass jar.  (Perhaps turns could be taken among the family members to write the details of the thing or event you are thankful for.)  The note could begin:  “I remember when …”.  Each week the blessings note would be put in the jar, and then next New Year’s Eve the family could gather together and take turns reading all the notes, and then say a prayer of thanks for all the year’s blessings on the family.
I liked this idea.
I write down thoughts God gives me here on this blog, and I suppose they are a way of preserving thoughts of His blessings to me.  Today I shall go back and read the posts of this past year, and give thanks.  I think it would be a good start to the New Year.
This past year God has been good to me, for I remember when ….
- - - - - - - - - -
As the old year ended last night and the new one began, I was not without God’s blessings.
On the way to an early-evening New Year’s Eve celebration with friends, I stopped at the 7-11 store and saw the manager there, the one whose father was in the hospital.  R. looked sad as he told me how his father is in pain and discomfort, and is refusing to eat.  “The surgery for his broken hip went well, but I was told that upwards of 60% of the elderly give up living afterwards, successful surgery or not.”  I told R. I would pray for his dad and him when I visited the chapel later that night.
I had only driven a block away, however, when thoughts came to me of my own mom’s battle for life, and I quickly made a U-turn back to the store.  I told R. how my mom had also fallen, but broke NOTHING, yet the pain and discomfort and fear of falling led her also to stop walking and eating.  And so she quickly entered a hospice program, to die.  But tender care by myself and mom’s live-in caregiver, demonstration that she could be moved about easily despite not walking (Hoyer lift), and even spoon feeding, bite by bite, eventually changed mom’s outlook.  She lived another 5 years.  “Even when we feel things are hopeless,” I told R., “they are just our feelings.  There is ALWAYS hope.”   I then gave R. copies of Fr. Benedict Groeschel’s little booklet “You are Not Alone; Prayers in Dark Times.”  He smiled and thanked me sincerely for taking the time to tell him comforting words he needed to hear.
And I continued on to the evening’s party.
Then later that night at the adoration chapel, the midnight hour passed and I praised God quietly for the blessings of this past year.  But He gave me more.  A young man I did not know was in the chapel also reading and praying, when he turned to me and asked: “Would it bother you if I prayed aloud the Te Deum prayer?”  I assented and thought I might join him in reciting the prayer, when he began to beautifully chant the prayer, in Latin.  It has been many, many years since I had heard that prayer said aloud in Latin, and as I recalled some of the words times past it gave me immense comfort.  Prayers were said to Him, but it was truly His gift to me.  And I again gave thanks.
But God was not done with me.  Sunday morning I went to mass on this feast day of Mary, the Mother of God.  Shortly before the mass began a large family filed into the pew, with the father setting down the bassinet containing the youngest child right in front of me.  And as I stood for the opening prayers I looked down and could see the peacefully sleeping child’s face.  Despite the loud music and singing, the child continued quietly sleeping all through the readings and homily.  Nothing had changed when we again stood to recite The Creed.  And then we came to the words “and was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man,” and as I said those words aloud and looked down at that angelic face in front of me, the sleeping child smiled.
I wish you a blessed 2017.

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