My sister’s recent Facebook post of a cherished memory from six years ago caused my heart to stir in an unfamiliar way. I haven’t thought about the summer of 2016 for quite a while until I saw a photo of my parents in front of a favorite lobster spot in the cool of a beautiful Cape Cod summer evening. The smile on my Mom’s face looked pure and real. She must have been enjoying herself, or so I thought. We now know that Mom was called home to God only a few short weeks after that photo was taken.
On that evening, I imagine Mom was loving us through her actions, despite how she may have felt with advanced stage 4 cancer. This notion of loving others despite experiencing pain or some other cross puts others ahead of self. It is a a way of willing another’s happiness and good – it is a way of walking in the footsteps of Christ. Mom always did that when she was well, so it makes sense to me that she would continue doing that during her 3 year trial with cancer.
I recently listened to an interesting lecture on this topic of “loving when all is lost,” by Fr. Mike Schmitz of Ascension Press. He said, “When all is lost – a person you’ve loved, a job, your health or some other catastrophic situation – we can either give up or choose to love God with all we have left. There is only one choice.” I thought about Fr. Mike’s words for a long time (since I could personally relate to this topic) and realized that he was spot on – abandoning our grief, pain and anger really is the only option if we want to find peace again. Loving God and others leads to freedom when we are experiencing these feelings of loss. By giving our love to the One who is love, we release ourselves of the responsibility to find all the answers. This is HUGE. God’s grace working through our desire to love will allow us to live our way into the answers which are best for our lives and to ultimately experience real peace again.
We’ve recently had a lot of activity around our large extended family – an Eagle Scout ceremony, three high school graduations, a baby shower, two engagements and a family move. All of this is wonderful, happy stuff but it has meant a lot of travel, chaos and activity – not great for my ongoing aching back. I’ve struggled with “staying positive/not giving up” amidst the turmoil of events and have not always succeeded. Looking at that beautiful photo of my Mom from the summer 2016 was the reminder I needed to “love with all I have left” despite how my bad back feels on most days. It’s such a small thing BUT it can and does make a huge impact on those in my midst (and on me.)
When we choose to “love with all we have left” despite our feelings, pains and struggles, it is simply good enough for God. Much good WILL come from our efforts! God multiplies our meager raindrops and turns them into showers of goodness. And somehow, the pain – whatever it is – just works itself out. Either God gives us the strength to bear it or sees fit to take it away for a time. Love, with all you have left – it is the only way.
Saying Goodbye to 260, after 23 years!