Love Thy Neighbor Love Thy Neighbor

Understanding the will of God can be difficult.   What am I typing?  It is not only daunting, but at times simply maddening.  It can include excitement at the prospect of His plans, and at times sadness to see our own will diminished and His will exercised.  It’s like a roller coaster ride of highs and lows, until ultimately, we surrender ourselves and find the peace that can only come with His divine grace.

Lately, HH and I have had something pulling at us, as if God was trying to tell us something, so delicately that we can’t see it clearly.  In His wisdom, it’s almost like, he wants us to figure Him out first, before revealing His plan.  It’s rare that both husband and wife should feel this same stir deep within, at the same time, at least rare for us.  So we’ve spent some significant time in discernment….thinking and praying through the many facets of our family of seven to hear God’s plan clearly, to see how He is marking things out for us.  What does God want us to see and change in our lives, for us to represent His Will more accurately.

As I mentally imagine the many ways to enrich our family life, to make changes, my mind goes into far reaching places as well.  Is God asking for big changes, like a move, like a school change, like a complete lifestyle shift?  I began to look at every opportunity that presented itself, as if God was placing this in my path in order for me to align more closely to His will.  Every opportunity became a discernment process!

And then I stopped looking, and asked God to simply show us, in very clear terms, so I wouldn’t miss it.

And then yesterday happened.

My beloved had arranged for us to visit a fellow parishioner from our parish, that we were informed was very ill, couldn’t leave his home and would not live much longer.  It was a week day, kids had homework and tests to study for, but it all got put on hold.

They all made homemade get well cards and off we went.  Not knowing what to expect, or the condition of this weak, ill man, we took the driving time to teach our children about corporal works of mercy.  We are visiting the ill, the dying and the imprisoned.  When were you sick or imprisoned, and we visited you, Lord?  Yesterday.  Yesterday we spent time as a family, hugging and laughing and crying with our fellow man, the person who used to sit in a nearby pew and play peek-a-boo with my Babe.

He asked for our prayers as he stated he doesn’t pray much anymore.  We insisted, “He is preparing a place for you,”  to which he answered, “I hope so, cause I have prepared my own, the cemetery, I mean.”

For a weak man, his hugs were strong and filled with a mix of determination and resignation, if that’s even possible.  We witnessed a man on the stepping stones of his last life stage.  We comforted his daughter, and the kids tried to appear unafraid of oxygen tanks and the hoses wrapped around his face.  They saw a grown man, needing help to stand, to walk, to speak and to wipe his mouth.  They saw this man, a veteran from a World War completely reliant on someone else, in his last days.

We left the house, and our van was silent for a while, as we contemplated life’s reality.  Part of this life, is death.  I asked each child of mine, what they thought about the visit and was curious what will they take from this experience.

The kids had mixed reviews of the event, some said they were sad, others afraid, but the consensus of our group was that they could see the happiness we had brought by a simple visit to his home.  And I thought about that.  It’s true, sometimes, we see people in our parish, but never see their home, visit them and make a personal connection to them.  To see others at Mass on Sunday…is that all it’s supposed to be?  Or are we a community that will reach out to one of its own.

HH decided to treat us all for a pizza dinner out, and during the meal a neighboring restaurant guest decided to give our family a discount on our dinner.  Overwhelmed at the night’s events, HH and I made knowing glances towards each other, as if we knew God has been working here.

Yes, the home work got done, and studying for tests happened so briefly, however, the lesson of the day wasn’t meant to be conjugating Spanish.  It was meant to be a corporal work of mercy, and what it means to our fellow man in the pew.  Will my kids remember all the Spanish they needed to know for this test today?  I doubt it.  Will they forever remember the man of last night, and his bright eyes, and the smile we were able to bring him?  For sure.  They will remember him.

And in this world of constant decision making, discernment, shall we say, I need to teach my children of the important , eternal lessons of the day….the lessons of love, compassion and mercy.

God working in our hearts, and being attentive to His promptings is not always easy.  In fact, it will often times take us in directions that are uncomfortable or unpleasant, reminding us of things we’d rather take for granted.  In the end did HH and I really figure out what is stirring in our hearts?

We did.  Yesterday, we did know the plan.  And we can’t say that we know exactly, every minute what He would want from us.  But to be able to state in very clear terms that we got one day right – we got one event right, that we know God would have wanted us there, well, that’s enough.

Lord, keep stirring in our heart. Keep moving us to serve others.  Help us to bring joy and peace to those who are lonely or sick.  Embrace the dying, Lord, prepare him a place, a garden for him to call home. 

Copyright 2013 Sahmatwork