Often I am reminded that but for the grace of God go I!
Another thing I try to remember, but often I fail, is to treat everyone nicely, with compassion, because we never truly know what the other person is dealing with or going through!
Coming off the incredible high of the wedding of the century coupled with having my whole family together for 4 days, including my NCfamily, I found myself confronted by some difficulties. I've expressed some of these set backs on Facebook this week and have withheld one. On Facebook I've shared the news that both my prized tractor and my most necessary GMC Acadia are on the fritz. Here is a Friday night update: the tractor is back in business thanks to friend Keith fixing the old girl up and running like new. The car, well, not so much. It seems some previous repairs were far from repairs and I have some serious damage to both tires and alignments. Coupled with the need of a brake job, I'm looking at an easy $ 1,000 expense, never good, but coming one week after the wedding of the century, which as expected carried the price tag of the century.
For reasons I will not elaborate upon, I also am sad to report that my wife is no longer working at the local Humane Society. Suffice to say her contract time is up and no further offer was forthcoming. It was indeed a great run for her. She worked very hard for them but now, we move on to whatever else is next.
Life happens doesn't it?
So while I was inclined to whine a little bit about some of this post-wedding back to earth reality I was made aware of many stories of incredible pain and incredible hope. These examples make car repairs and even job interruptions seem so silly. I want to be sensitive here but feel like there is enough "well known" details to share these stories and remind everyone that we are all on a journey together. And journeys come with both smooth sailing and choppy, sometimes rough waters.
As my family prepared for a wedding, another family from our church parish was sadly preparing for the funeral of their not yet 30 year old son. This young man, who served our country in the military, had his life on earth cut short by a terrible car accident. He would be gone in the blink of an eye, completely unexpected. His parents, heart-broken and grief-stricken, also shared their hope and joy of their son experiencing eternal life with their God. There would be a great outpouring of love and support from the parish family and after the funeral, family and friends gathered to celebrate the life of this fine young man.
During the same week, our parish community and the entire Archdiocese would be notified that a holy, young priest, currently serving the USCCB was diagnosed, after experiencing some brief pain, with a serious cancer. This too was totally unexpected. Our priest friend demonstrated great spiritual witness for all those who care for him and are praying for him by resting in the love of Jesus and the maternal care and concern of mother Mary. His parents, both active volunteers around the parish, have vowed to be by his side and walk this journey with him. And there is great hope in the multitude of prayers being offered by a large community of people of faith.
Finally, I'm sharing a story of the goodness of everyday normal people coming together in extraordinary ways to help someone in need. One of our co-workers was diagnosed with cancer last year and faced months and months of chemo, radiation and surgery. It was rough but she persevered. As her diagnosis was improving, her husband was diagnosed with a very aggressive and challenging cancer. Both of them would be faced with helping the other through their own realities of being cancer patients. A group of employees got together and started raising some money, one of the coordinators of this effort, a cancer patient herself! Today, our co-worker was presented a check for several thousand dollars; not an effort of the corporation, an effort by ordinary folks working as tellers, bankers, clerks, analysts, etc. What great joy and hope in a situation that still is fraught with challenges and not knowing completely what the future may hold.
These are but three examples that I have witnessed in the past two weeks. These examples make my little broken car or tractor or any of the other myriad of things I can carry on about seem small and even perhaps ridiculous. Everyone has a story, sometimes it's not necessarily "happy ever after". Everyone has to decide how they will deal with the challenges; even the pain. Everyone has to decide how they will act and react. Everyone has to decide if they will seize even the smallest of victories in these times of great battle.
All of this should be a reminder that everyday we must strive to love one another, pray for one another, appreciate one another and constantly pray to God for thankfulness, understanding, wisdom, forgiveness and intercession for our own, and our family and friends, many needs.
In every example of incredible pain, I see a story of even more incredible hope!