Thanksgiving in May

“I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will, does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always, though I may seem to be lost, and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

Thomas Merton

A wonderful friend of ours sent this quote to me today while he was on retreat. Merton was writing about his relationship with God, but many of the sentiments in the quote are equally applicable to our human relationships as well. Our desire to love one another, to keep trying, to live with the promise to care for the people we love is the essence of what God wants for us and from us. He knows that if we honestly desire to love Him and one another that we will fulfill His will for our lives. A little seven year old taught me that lesson, perhaps she taught all of us.

As we take a deep breath in the wake of the success of fulfilling Catie’s Wish for year one, (not too much of a deep breath, as Catie and her mother have that “more/better” motto), I for one need to remember the first big lesson Catie taught me last year. I read back through the earliest emails we sent last year and listened again to St. Jude’s commercials. The common thread of all of them is “thanks and giving”. We have done an amazing job through the generosity and hard work of tens of thousands on the “giving” side. Perhaps today is the day to focus again for a moment on the “thanks” side. In Marlo Thomas’ words, “give thanks for the healthy children in your life”. In Catie’s own words from last July, “tell everyone I love them and to hug one another”.

I am blessed. I have a benevolent Father in heaven who loves me unconditionally, a mother who said “yes” to being the vessel that delivered Jesus into the world, and a Brother who cared enough about me to take my failings and wash them away with His own blood. I have the honor of being married to a beautiful, funny, spiritual woman who “gently” pushes me to be the very best version of myself. I have 5 healthy, happy children who know that I love them and their mother. I have 2 daughters in heaven sending me their blessings so that I can be the father I am called to be. I have parents who love and accept and challenge me, sisters and brothers who helped to form me and continue to stand by me. I have friends who support me and allow me to be there for them as well. I am able to put food on the table, a roof over the heads of my loved ones, and live in a country where I can profess all that I believe and all that I am without fear of reprisal. Today was a day for me to take stock of all the blessings in my life and to realize that those blessings are the product of my trust in God.

I pray that if you choose to count your blessings that yours are as plentiful as are mine, even more so. Like Thomas Merton, I will continue to desire to please God and the people He has placed in my life. I know that I will fall short and make mistakes as I journey. Catie taught me that falling down did not have to define who I am. She showed me that choosing to get back up, accepting the help of others, asking God to show the way, and doing it all with quiet grace and a smile is the key. Catie lived life the right way. I still miss her every day. I miss her less when I allow her to be my example.

May God bless you and the work of your hands,

Christine, Kevin, Maggie, Max, Mia, Molly, and M.E.

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