It’s been over a month since I’ve had a chance to share with you how I’ve seen God present in my life. As always, when I look for His presence I find it. Lately, I’ve found Him often.
In an earlier post I mentioned that we have been remodeling our kitchen. Our contractor completed the project two Wednesdays ago and we scheduled to have our piano returned the following day. But, on that Thursday morning my wife, Melinda, discovered several inclusions embedded in the finish of the new hardwood floor throughout the house. It appeared the finishing crew had not vacuumed well enough after sanding the floor. With difficulty I fought to control my anger and disappointment and accepted that we would not be able to move back in for at least a couple more weeks.
Not willing to buy off on the finished product, we contacted our contractor and asked to have the flooring company come back and refinish the floor. We also had to call the piano storage company and cancel delivery of the piano, which we felt sure was already on its way, and braced ourselves for the cost of a superfluous delivery. When Melinda called she was told that our piano delivery had, for some reason, never been scheduled. I couldn’t help but think that this could be God’s reward for taking baby steps in the virtues of meekness, patience and humility. The delay was not what I would have willed but I gave thanks to God any way.
Two Saturdays ago my wife and I travelled to my hometown of Dexter, Missouri to visit my folks and to see our oldest daughter and her family who were visiting from Seattle, Washington. On Sunday morning Melinda and I attended mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. There aren’t many Catholics in my home town and the usual 40 to 50 faithful showed up. As visitors, we didn’t know this was the first Sunday their new priest, Fr. David Coon, would preach. As we waited for mass to begin we watched Fr. Coon, slight in stature, mid-fiftyish with thinning hair and thick glasses, meticulously prepare the altar for mass. In the Liturgy of the Word, Fr. Coon read the Gospel and offered one of the best homilies I’ve ever heard!
Since this was his first mass to this congregation, Fr. Coon, after his homily, introduced himself to the parish with a brief auto-biography. He explained the reason for his thick glasses: he was blind and has been since he was a young child. He then satisfied my curiosity about why his hands were constantly moving on the ambo while reading the Gospel: he had typed the passage in braille. He went on to tell us of how he was called to the priesthood as a youth, and how he managed to persevere through seminary with his disability by having a relative read and record onto cassette tapes everything he was expected to study, and then he would listen to the recording and type it into braille so he could “read” it again.
Fr. Coon’s witness drove home how the power of faith and trust in the Lord can help one overcome any disability or setback one might encounter. I felt blessed and was grateful to have been there that morning. I prayed that the Sacred Heart parishioners would know how fortunate they are to have him as their shepherd.
Later that day my dad asked me if I would mind mowing his yard for him. My dad will soon be 89 years old and is recovering from broken hip and hernia surgeries. Of course, I said yes, not just because he needed my help but because I love him and I also love to mow grass. Dad has always been very active and I know it about killed him to have to ask me to do “his” work.
Unused to driving his mower I turned a little too sharply around the corner of his shed and I steered four inches too far into some tall grass which he had not previously mowed. Unseen in the tall grass was a large piece of cast iron which I ran over. The piece of metal broke in two, bent the blade 30 degrees, and the smaller broken piece flew into the right front tire cutting it and making it go flat.
I felt terrible about damaging his mower and I immediately worried that I would not find replacement blades and a new tire on Sunday, the 4th of July! Fortunately, the local farm and home supply store was open and had what I needed. I found a store to mount the new tire and within a couple hours I was reinstalling the blades and wheel. With everything back in place I began mowing again only to discover that the left blade was cutting about a half inch lower in the center than the right blade was cutting. I discovered that the hub that retains the blade shaft and fastens it to the mower deck was also broken. I knew for sure this piece was not going to be replaced that day.
I looked at my dad and said, “Dad, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to do this!” With love he replied, “I know, son, I know.” My dad is a man who can fix just about anything. But, with his immobility, he was only able to watch and toss out ideas of how we might make a temporary repair. So, with his creativity and knowledge of the materials he had available in his shed, and my hands, we found a way to fasten the hub to the deck such that the left side blade cut within an eighth of an inch of the right hand blade. He was happy, I was happy, and I finished mowing his yard.
As I was mowing I thought about what a dreadful experience this had been. But, then it occurred to me that dad and I had just spent an entire afternoon bonding in a way that we haven’t done in years. We worked together as one on a project that had a satisfactory ending. I thought, considering his age, how we may not have many more opportunities such as that. Although I still regretted breaking his mower, I was suddenly grateful to God that it had happened and that we had been able to spend time working together. I will remember that day.
As I began my daily prayer and meditation yesterday morning I realized that it was July 13th, the 40th anniversary of when I first met Melinda. I don’t remember when we had our first date but I remember the date we first met. I remember her beautiful smile and the sparkle in her eyes that day. She remembers nothing about our first meeting so I must not have impressed her! So, I began my prayer time giving extra thanks to God for placing her in my life and for giving me someone to love all these years and for having someone to love me. I don’t know where I’d be without her. Probably dead or in jail.
“Heavenly Father, thank You for the love You bring through all of life’s experiences, through friends and family, and in the time I spend with You in prayer. Lord, I know You are always with me and I pray for the grace to get better at intentionally spending time in Your presence. Amen.”
(God Loves You in So Many Ways – Be Grateful!, was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)
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