I am very grateful that Patricia, St. Timothy’s Director of Spiritual Renewal and Communications, suggested that in the 60 days leading up to our 60th anniversary on Palm Sunday, March 20, members of St. Timothy’s pause for 60 seconds and give thanks for blessings received in this community. Where this led me was not just to give thanks for the blessings received during my 22 years at St. Timothy’s, but to give thanks for blessings throughout my life.
My daily practice has been the following: During the period of silence I take every morning, I simply wait to see what blessing presents itself. Once I have identified the blessing, I simply spend some time with it. What I have also decided to do is to put on my wall in my office a photo of the person—if it is a person—or if not a person, some sort of symbol for the blessing, in order to give me a daily reminder of how much God has given me.
What am I discovering in doing this on a daily basis? I am discovering that there is a well of blessings inside of me from which I can drink and find deep joy. For example, this morning my attention was once again drawn towards my deceased parents. I had spent some time with then in prayer a few days ago. But what came up this morning was the day my siblings and I told my dad that his wife of over 60 years had died. At the time of her death, they lived in different areas of a retirement home in our hometown of Salt Lake City. My dad’s Alzheimer’s had progressed to the point where he was barely recognizing anyone. When my siblings and I arrived at his room, it suddenly occurred to me that we hadn’t discussed how we would tell him. As the youngest of four, I am usually not the one in charge when we are together, but in this case I realized that this was my job. As we sat there with my dad, I decided to direct his attention to a family picture taken a few years before. I pointed to my mother and asked him, “Dad, who is this?” He paused a few seconds and then said “That’s my wife.” I then said with a big lump in my throat, “Dad, she died last night.” He looked at me a bit puzzled and said, “She did?” “Yes dad, she did.”
When I had left Cincinnati the day before to come to Salt Lake City, I was aware of how worried I was that my dad wouldn’t realize that his wife had died, and I just couldn’t bear the thought! Could it really be possible that after all the life they shared, he wouldn’t be able to grieve her loss? After we told him that she had died, we went immediately to the funeral home intending to spend some time just being with her. When she was brought into the room and my dad saw her, he said some of the most consoling words I have ever heard, “Oh how I loved her.” We then spent an hour telling stories and just being there. Some of the time my dad was aware of what was going on; some of the time he didn’t have a clue why we were there.
As I remembered that day this morning, I began to weep. I was weeping because that day was an experience of the extraordinary gift that my siblings and I received in the steadfast love that bound my parents together. Together we were able to simply sit and be present to the extraordinary gift we had been given.
One of the great challenges of life is that we get distracted and forget how God has sustained us along the way. When we forget about God’s providential care, we get anxious and fearful. Spending some time each day recalling our blessings is a way of remembering that God has been with us and will be with us in the days ahead.