August 7, 2009

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Acknowledging a few special moments in life

Shirley Vogler MeisterIn the Book of Matthew in the Bible, God the Father “came down from heaven like a dove” to acknowledge Jesus after he was baptized by his cousin, John the Baptist. God said, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased” (Mt 3:13).

Obviously, we cannot praise those in our lives in the same way, but we certainly can acknowledge special moments when possible.

What inspired these thoughts? One day last month, my older grandson, David, was preparing to leave for Europe. His mother, my daughter, Diane, asked if she could photocopy his passport and itinerary.

The first week, David was part of an Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis group that visited Mannheim, Germany, for a “Go-Green/ Sustainability for Energy/Solar Thermal” program. The next two weeks, he traveled to various countries.

David told his mother where to find his passport and information in his backpack on a chair in a sitting area outside the kitchen door. Diane didn’t return quickly so I figured she wasn’t able to find what she needed. Not so! Instead, she was savoring a tender moment then came in quietly crying. I hugged her, thinking she regretted David’s leaving, but it was more than that.

When she reached into the backpack, Diane noticed that David was taking his Bible. When she shared this with me, we both cried happy tears, then did not say anything to him. Considering how much he needed to pack for his college-related seminars and other travels, we never expected that.

Through the years, I’ve known David to be happy, sociable and competent. He is working his way through college, loves sports and still plays soccer.

In fact, about a month before going abroad, he injured his knee in a soccer game. Two weeks before leaving, he hurt his back at work. The ongoing pain did not deter his travel plans.

David still doesn’t know about those special moments that Diane and I shared on the day he departed, nor does he know that I’m writing about this in my column.

When he returned, among the many experiences and observations he shared with family members was this: Wherever he went, he noticed that there were many more homeless people on the streets than he had seen in the United States.

He also shared an incident that made me recall the moment that Diane saw the Bible in David’s backpack.

Once, he and a friend met a downtrodden, disheveled homeless man who was reading aloud passages from a Bible. Passersby ignored him, but David went to him, hugged him, and encouraged him to remain strong in his faith and in what the future holds. The homeless man cried. Perhaps it had been a long time since someone treated him humanely, let alone acknowledged his presence.

This is my grandson with whom I am well pleased.

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

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