Today I heard a homily from our beloved deacon and, even more so than in his words, I felt the force of his message really just in his presence alone. Our deacon lost his wife almost two months ago, and he is in the haze of grief that only those who have walked that road know. In addition, he has his own illness and that of close family members on his shoulders and his mind and his heart. This is a season of loss for him, no doubt about it, and it was the first time he preached since his wife passed. I wasn’t sure what he would say, and maybe he wasn’t entirely sure either, but he spoke about the readings and thanked the people for their prayers. He said the prayers, for himself and his wife, were effective, even though she succumbed to her disease; that he felt their power and force in how the events in her last days transpired.
The gospel today was about ten lepers whom Jesus healed, and how only one of them came back to say thank you. And as our deacon stood at the lectern, a bit fragile, thanking the people and praising God in the midst of pain, I thought, he is living this message out, right in front of us today. But unlike the leper who came back to Jesus, this man is not fully healed, yet still he prays. How many of us thank God when we are in pain? How many of us put God in the higher place when our own sorrows weigh us down and we can’t see past our own need? I don’t, not usually. Though it’s a prescribed practice for Christians, it’s so hard to do.
Making a practice of thanksgiving no matter my mood is something I’ve been working on and honestly struggling with. If I continue at the pace I’m at now, I should have it totally mastered by the time I am two hundred and twelve years old, (or so.) Baby steps, I guess. But today, there was so much to be thankful for, right in front of me, that it was hard to take it all in. Both of my children at mass, their well-being, the good people of God mourning and serving all at once, my dear friend, tears falling past her cute glasses and a memory of a day we shared. The fellowship that comes in honest, godly friendship. The knowledge that we don’t need to be perfect to be loved. The access and ability we have to turn to God as healer, the many times He’s healed me, the memory of it. The providence of God, how He works to bring us together, this special chapel, the sound of my son once again playing on its piano, rain on its roof. His high school friends and their kind, open hearts. The privilege I have to watch children grow and use their talents and become good grownups in the world. Time to breathe and cook macaroni and cheese and eat and sing and rest. The promise of what is to come.
God is good. Even when it’s hard and the road seems to twist and turn as I walk it, I have to testify to that truth along with my friend the deacon today. God is good and He loves me, really, and it cracks my heart open a bit more just to say it. I imagine that’s been the plan all along.