Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Paul, Prayer and Relationship

Paul, prayer and relationship

April 19, 2016

Very recently we lost a good friend who passed away very quickly. The shocking news of his battle with cancer came via text through a mutual friend.  With respect to his wishes, all were asked to hold off on the phone calls, visits or any social media posts so he and his family could focus on the battle at hand.

Waves of emotions flooded our minds, as we coped with the helplessness that came over us. Although I knew my friend for thirty years, I had let the relationship slip away, and resigned myself to "liking" Facebook posts as he and his wife posted various accomplishments of their two wonderful children.  Was this anyway to have a relationship?  Posting "likes" and feeling that, "well I've just done the least I could do to reach out to an old friend, a roommate, a buddy"?

In a blink of an eye, ten years have passed, as I watched a relationship drift, like a fallen leaf in a steam. It was too easy not to pick up the phone and make the "how are you doing call" as your friend comes to mind. Just chalk it up to the way it is, people move into your life and out of your life, that is until that someone's life here on earth comes to an abrupt end.

Paul, I'm sure you can hear me now.  I am sorry for dropping the ball, letting time and the busyness of life get in our way! Please forgive me.

As I get older, I have become more introspective. Questioning my actions, exploring my faith tradition, trying to be bold and courageous, and yes, trying to be more attentive to my spouse. (although unsuccessful at times). Sometimes I feel very emotional, even "mushy" by other's standards, raising questions, challenging thought and trying change my behavior.

The call to serve God, potentially as a Deacon and going though the Diaconate Formation process has forced me to shine the spotlight on where I have been, and my unworthiness to serve. God has corrected my path, and given me the blessings of a wonderful wife (Debbie) and daughter (Faith, Elizabeth) and the many friends, family and parishioners who have supported and challenged me, providing me with the right road signs.

I'm blogging this down, as a near distant lesson for myself to make things right. To reach out to his family and rebuild the connection.  A lesson brought out as we mourned our friend's passing as each remaining friend vowed to keep in better touch.

As a fifty-something guy, I often point my judgmental finger at the youth of today, and preach about their lack of social skills and presumed shallow relationships. Well my finger is pointing back at me in a big way. I have failed at "the reaching out" part. Despite my failings, God's GPS keeps trying to reroute me to His right path. Even though, I choose to make the wrong turn when I know the right way, God re-shuffles the deck and gives me a new route.... "Recalculating, recalculating, Steve make the right turn up ahead."

As I work on prayer life and the relationship God always offers, I have come to realize that if I have a "Living God", in the person of Jesus, I need to keep my end of the relationship by reaching out in prayer, and picking up the scriptures. (yes, I've dropped the ball on these items as well many times). The talking and listening of a relationship that transcends this world.

I pray for my friend Paul and I pray for his wife and kids as they struggle to make sense of his passing. I was strengthened by Pat's strength in keeping it together during the past few days.  I pray God's grace will continue to provide for her and her children.

Relationships are key to the grace we get from God in abundance, especially through the good friends we have and the good friends we lost.

So when you see me on your caller ID, let's pick up where we left off.

Mr. Wilson - "No Problem"

April 19, 2016

My wife often refers to my "Mr. Wilson" attitude when I ponder the small things. You may recall the Mr. Wilson character in "Dennis the Menace" cartoon strip or sitcom of the same name. Cranky Mr. Wilson often seemed irked by the shenanigans of his neighbor's son, but in the end, they had a sustaining relationship. A relationship I hope to build with the millennial's of today.

How many time each day have you gotten the response, "No Problem" during your casual interactions?  I know I'm guilty of this. Have we lost the "Please" and "Thank you" and "You're Welcome"  of our childhood manners training?

Words have meaning and I'd like to unpack this a bit further. So please excuse my "Mr. Wilson".

A friend just posted an article on gratitude which made me wonder. Are we less gracious on the small things and does this affect our gratitude with life in general? When I say "no problem, am I saying, serving you or helping you is no problem to me?  Is the focus turned inward or outward to the other?  Sir here's your coffee, and it's no problem, you are not my problem.

Juxtapose the "thank you" and "you're welcome".  I am thankful for you, "I welcome you" redirects our perspective from an inward direction out to the other.

I believe by working on these small gestures we can provide a better, yet small example on how to serve our brothers and sisters and take the focus off ourselves and look to the gratefulness of service from and for our brothers and sisters.

So till next time....Stay off my lawn!  Thank you