April 18, 2008

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Be open to recognizing blessings when they come

Shirley Vogler MeisterRecently, a friend told me how wonderful it felt to fill a pew with extended family members during the Easter Vigil Mass at her Catholic church—13 loved ones, in fact.

That reminded me of a late friend, who once criticized people for “showing off” families in that way, probably because her family rarely worshipped together.

I told her that I, on the other hand, admired—even envied—such family groups who worship together, especially when it’s not a holy day or special event.

That’s when I told her how I had always hoped for 13 children. I wanted to have a large family from the time I was a young girl, through my teens and even when I was engaged to be married.

As it turned out, God blessed my husband and me with only three daughters. I accept our children with gratitude for family has inundated us with blessings as well as challenges through which my husband and I have spiritually grown.

After congratulating my friend whose family filled the church pew, I counted those in our immediate family circle: Paul and me; Donna and her husband, Roby, and their 8-year-old son, Sam; Diane and her fiancé, Al, and her son, David, and his girlfriend, Emmeline; and Lisa and her fiancé, Scott, and his daughter, Marina.

If I counted our two cats meowing nearby, I could say we have more than 13 gathered for special events.

Because that is stretching my count, I will change the subject to another view of the number 13, the Last Supper of our Lord Jesus and his 12 disciple, who dined together for the last time—13 gathered before Jesus died.

Next month, we will celebrate Pentecost—sometimes referred to as Whitsunday—when the triune God appeared as a dove to some of the same disciples who were at the Last Supper as well as others.

The reason for their gathering was to choose someone to take the place of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus then committed suicide. The coming of the Holy Spirit was an awesome surprise.

We rarely expect such faith moments to come to us.

Still, I was wonderfully surprised when I recently realized that my youthful dream of 13 in the family had come true—even though not exactly as I had originally imagined.

In fact, I feel this way every time something extraordinary happens to confirm that God is definitely working wonders in our lives in the most unexpected ways. We only need to open our hearts and minds to such surprises.

A friend who is a doctor once shared an old verse about human nature that seems appropriate here: “As a rule, man’s a fool. When it’s hot, he wants it cool. When it’s cold, he wants it hot—always wanting what is not.”

Why can’t we be satisfied?

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.) †

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