Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who reads this blog. Later today our family will begin to arrive at our home and we’ll once more be re-united with those we hold close to our hearts. My mother, 83 years young will be here along with Diane’s Mom and Dad. Our children will be here and also my brothers and sisters in law and a couple of cute little girls who are the new generation of grand-children in the family. God has been good to us and to me in particular. I’m planning on driving to Mt. Irenaeus for Mass later this morning. The friars celebrate Eucharist at 11 AM. It’s very quiet as I sit here this morning in the dawn’s early light. It’s overcast today, but I know that somewhere the sun in shining. I’m brewing a pot of coffee and enjoying the smell of it perking.
I’m thankful for this year. There is renewed purpose in my life. I’m teaching again and attending graduate school at St. Bonaventure University. I’m learning anew and being challenged by my classmates and professor. Five months has made a big difference in my life. A retreat at Mt. Irenaeus, taking inventory and sharing with my friend led to a renewed spirit. “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect,” from Romans 12:2. I think of how much the scriptures inform and transform my life.
My friend, Paul is being greeted by Sister Death and I’ve had the privilege of being with him and his family as he leaves this life bound for the next. Paul has been sick for a couple of months. He’s 87 and he broke his hip in late September. It’s been a tough couple of months for he and his family but he’s at peace and so are they. Sure there is grief, but amidst the grief there is much happiness for a life well lived. I’ve know Paul for 30 years and in that time we’ve grown very close. He’s been a rock in my life and as he grew older and his eyes dimmed many of us helped him get to where he needed to be. He lives almost ten miles from nowhere in hamlet that is almost forgotten. We help ourselves most when we help others and our concern for Paul and his needs have drawn us closer together. The night he fell he was surrounded by brothers, most of them half his age. It has been something to witness this tremendous outpouring of love. One of Paul’s favorite poems became one of my favorites and whenever I think of him I think of it. It’s a story of our lives and it’s a story of redemption too and all of us who knew Paul have been redeemed.
I FLED Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat—and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet—
‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.’
You can read the whole poem here. We will all miss Paul, but I for one am very thankful that our paths crossed and for thirty years we were friends and that he shared so much of his life and insight with me and with us.