Carolyn Bassett illustrates some of God's gifts for us during our journey in this world.
A Little Bit of Heaven
Each Sunday we join in the celebration of the Mass, when our Lord feeds us with his Body and Blood. We look forward to the celebration that is even now going on in heaven, with all of our brothers and sisters in Christ who are united forever with God. Yet even our earthly celebrations can reflect the joy of heaven, when family and friends gather together and rejoice in one another.
That is exactly what I experienced as we celebrated our fiftieth wedding anniversary last summer. Initially I was reluctant to go forward with the preparations. My husband, Frank, convinced me to just enjoy the process. He wrote me a beautiful letter expressing his love for me and pointing out that this could be the last big thing he could do for me. How could I say no to that?
The family all pitched in to plan the party, and finally our special night arrived. We gathered in our parish church for Mass, which was followed by an anniversary blessing by our wonderful pastor. That was a very special moment for me, as I looked around to see so many of our family and friends standing with us. There we were, in the autumn of our lives, thankful to God for his faithfulness through the good as well as difficult times. God’s love had enabled us to be present to renew our commitment of love to one another, with family and friends present.
At one point during the party, I was dancing with one of my grandsons, Patrick. He looked endearingly at me and asked, “So, Grammy, what is your favorite part of this evening?” Immediately I said, “Right now it is dancing with you, Patrick!” I then added, “I think it is a bit of what heaven will be like, surrounded by family and friends, experiencing so much of God’s love.”
Celebrations are an important part of our lives, and as we age, they become even more poignant—including past ones. Recall some of the celebrations in your own life. What was special about them? Perhaps you can enjoy getting out photo albums and thanking the Lord for these moments. Think about some of the gifts God is giving you today, in this season of your life, that you would like to celebrate with others.
Father, I am overwhelmed at times with your love. Help me to celebrate all the gifts you have for me.
A Joyful Countenance
Have you ever had an unexpected meeting with someone that gave you a deeper insight into God’s amazing love?
One of the traditions I enjoy with my daughter-in-law, Mary, while on vacation is picking a day to go to morning Mass, have lunch, and then go shopping. This year we ended up having a conversation after Mass with a man named Dennis.
A joy-filled man of eighty-two, Dennis was raised Catholic. He told us that as a young person, he had left the Church for some time. During those years, Dennis remembered, on three occasions he experienced inner promptings to “come back home.” Finally he did. Over time he found that he was able to deal with many changes and trials because of God’s grace.
One longstanding trial later in life was caring for his wife after she had a stroke. He eventually took an early retirement so he could care for her full-time. At times his sorrow would become so great that he would walk out of his house and raise his hands and voice to God, asking, “Why, God, why us?” Dennis said he would finally yield to the loving presence of the Holy Spirit, who would calm his heart and mind. Reassured with divine confidence and love, he would return to his wife’s side to serve her.
Dennis cared for his wife for eighteen years, until she passed away. Dennis said that without God’s mercy and grace, he could never have lived a life of joy and victory in the midst of this trial.
I realized this chance meeting was God-ordained. Mary’s father, Ed, had cared for her mother, Louise, for many years. Like Dennis, Ed could never have endured the years that Louise suffered without God’s generous help. Ed too served Louise with joy until the day she died. Our conversation with Dennis gave both Mary and me greater gratitude to our Lord, for both his personal interest in us and his action in our families.
Do you recall a time in your life when you were struggling and experienced God’s intimate love for you? He is always waiting to embrace you, to console you, and to empower you to face whatever is ahead.
Father, regardless of what trials I may endure, you promise that you will never leave me or forsake me. I embrace your love and the gifts you give me in this season in my life.
The Eye of the Storm
Have you ever been through a hurricane?
Some years ago, Frank and I were on vacation at the shore in North Carolina. He returned home to Virginia, to go back to work. A week later, some family members were coming to join me. In the meantime, I was without a car, which normally would have been fine. However, a hurricane out in the Atlantic suddenly took a turn toward the Carolinas. It was bearing down quickly, and it was a big one!
I was very frightened, and I was alone. I had to first think about closing down our home there, which was no small task. And then where would I go? What would be my safest port in this storm?
Before Frank and I could even talk about it, our friends Wayne and Debbie called and offered me a place in their home. They lived about twenty-five miles inland. Furthermore, they would drive down right away to get me and help close and secure the home. I was overwhelmed with God’s gift to me through these dear friends!
The huge hurricane battered the North Carolina coastline for four straight days. We were fortunate to find ourselves in the “eye of the storm” during that time. On land the center of the eye is by far the calmest part of the storm, with skies mostly clear of clouds and with little wind and rain. At times a person in the eye can see blue skies during the day and stars at night. I was fortunate to experience that beautiful sight. The turbulence, chaos, and destruction, though right around us, did not affect us. It was an experience I will always remember, a sign of God’s presence and beauty in the midst of uncertainties and dangers.
God our Father is our safe harbor, our sure refuge, our place of hope no matter what is going on around us. In fact, even in the midst of life’s uncertainties and trials, something beautiful can happen if we stay close to him, in the center of his love, relying on his presence to accompany us through each and every storm we face.
Father, your gift to me is your ability to be present no matter what is going on in my life. Teach me to be more aware of your presence every day.
Read more reflections by Carolyn Bassett in A Season of Grace: Embracing God’s Gifts in the Autumn of Our Lives (The Word Among Us Press, 2017). Available at wau.org