As 2018 ended, we asked Convivium readers if they’d like to express personal thanks to someone special in life. The selection that follows, rich with gratitude, covers the continuum of faith, hope and charity. And you? Is there anyone, as 2019 begins, that you’d like offer appreciation through this shared space? Let us know at email@example.com.
I think that you have some idea of the influence you have had on me, on the choices I have made that continue to shape whom I am and my journey in life; but I write to you now, prompted by Convivium, in hopes that you might have a clearer understanding.
To begin, it is quite certain that I would not have lived beyond my first trimester in your womb had you not followed your maternal/woman's intuition in the face of aggressive pressure to accept a D&C thought to save your life, pressure that was based on "expert" opinion that I had died.... For your self-sacrifice and for your trust in God and in the intercession of Our Blessed Mother, who helped us both, I give you thanks.
As one of the eldest of your and Dad's 12 children, growing up with you at home most of the time, being close to you as you spent your days cooking, cleaning, caring for your children, getting after us when we misbehaved, I learned by the testimony of your example that being a mother means laying down one's life, little by little, out of love. You showed us that love means, in the words of St. Teresa of Calcutta, "to give until it hurts"; you offered up a desire to pursue a career outside the home, choosing instead to make the formation of your children your full-time work. The complications and suffering you endured throughout some of your pregnancies reinforced my understanding of what you and Dad taught us in words: that every human life is sacred and worth fighting for. Welcoming five children into our family through adoption, who became just as much my brothers and sisters as those you conceived, you fostered in me a sensitivity to others beyond our circle of family and friends- especially to those who are often overlooked- expanding that circle and continuing to teach, as you journey fruitfully now through your senior years as a foster Mom, that the circle is meant to be ever-expanding.
I want to thank you for teaching me what you knew about God, about the treasure of our Faith and the Real Presence, and for teaching me how to pray the Rosary and of the importance of regular prayer. The foundation you laid in this regard, along with the witness of your life, was solid.
Finally, though this letter of thanks could never be exhaustive, I want to thank you for being "there" for me, especially through your prayer, even though the miles have often been a great many between us, and for accepting and even at times encouraging some of my more important decisions- even when they have inadvertently caused your maternal, protective heart to suffer- because love means being willing to give until it hurts.
The Art of Giving
Last year, having just moved to a new city with my dog and cat, I didn’t know a soul and needed a lot of help. I relocated for a better climate because I have MS: High functioning but progressing.
Of all the assistance I received, four individuals stood above the crowd. A realtor, a contractor, a store owner and a dog trainer.
They gave their time, their expertise and most of all their moxie to keep me hanging on to the leap of faith I took. The realtor said not to write off the idea of moving here just because half of the world relocated here; the contractor built me a ramp and fenced the yard for my dog, handling a saw and wood planks like cooking macaroni. He reconfigured and upgraded the ramp to get my scooter out of the mud and into the mud room.
The store owner invited me over for Christmas dinner with her two grown daughters complete with a lovely gift wrapped scarf and a game of Uno. The dog trainer filled me with hope that I wouldn’t have to give up my beautiful beagle because I couldn’t take care of her with my of increasing physical disability. The impact of those individuals stepping out of their comfort zone made significant differences in my life. They were strangers who gave without asking anything in return. The impact was huge. And still is.
Last Christmas I hosted a luncheon for them, calling it The Art of Giving. It was an opportunity to say thank you. But more so, it was the opportunity to collectively tell the story of how we met and what they did. I wanted to share the impact their help had.
We are all influenced and inspired by others. I wanted to highlight that. I wanted them to honour and acknowledge each other. Giving is truly an art that requires grace and tact. This year will be the second annual for a different batch of ‘strangers’.
After all, tis the season.
To the one I love,
As the day of our 33rd anniversary approaches I write to express my astonishment at the flight of time and how paradoxically close as well as distant the day seems when we said “I do”. Our lives have become so intertwined that I hardly recall life before you were by my side. In honor of this momentous occasion, I offer these reflections:
You are the hoarder to my minimalist self.
You are the voice of caution to my enthusiastic rose-colored glasses persona. The glass half full to my overflowing one.
You are the reader of directions to my “just wing-it” self.
You are the thoughtful ponderous to my impetuousness. The disciplined to my scattered.
You with the RBF (resting bitch face) to my RNF (resting nice face), the introvert to my extrovert. The crazy to my sane!
You are the lover of music to my silence-loving self. Patience personified to my anxious hurry-up bent.
The ways we differ have been our teachers, our wind and rain, slowly wearing smooth our rough edges, entering into our hidden spaces and making us anew. We have been chiseled, refined and polished over time as the storms have waxed and waned. What stands now after the accumulation of years is an ever-evolving work of art.
Here’s to the next three decades together!
I would like to send out a thank you to the grocery clerks of the world (and clerks in gas stations, Walmarts, or any other store) who serve a continuous tide of customers. Often people in your line may be brisk, impatient, stressed, and potentially impolite. Thank you for your patience and hard work; it is not unnoticed and is much appreciated! Thank you especially to you who put in the extra effort to make funny comments or start conversations; you create an atmosphere that can shift the tide of the line up that awaits. Here is a blessing from my favourite poet for you:
“May dawn find you awake and alert,
approaching your new day with dreams, possibilities and promises;
May evening find you gracious and fulfilled;
May you go into the night blessed, sheltered and protected;
May your soul calm, console and renew you.”
~ John O’Donohue
A Tribute to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate
We grew up in rural communities in NW Saskatchewan as cradle Catholics and received the sacraments of initiation in parishes where the Oblates were the administrators. We remember well that the homilies then were given in English and German and the teaching Sisters of Notre Dame would be asking questions first thing on Monday morning. So, we payed attention. Yes, we were married in St. Mary’s Church in Regina, where Fr. Gerald Fetsch, OMI was officiating.
Later we moved to Duncan, B.C. with our family, and were delighted to learn that the Oblates were in many parishes on the Island. We could visit and celebrate with our neighbouring parishes and feel very much at home.
In 1974 our beloved son, Trent, unfortunately died as a result of a car/bike accident and again it was the Oblate Community that came to be with us during this time of painful separation, sadness, and grief. For your support, and many acts of kindness, we shall forever be grateful. You demonstrated God’s tender mercy and compassion for us.
We so looked forward to the parish missions and retreats here at St. Edward’s, facilitated by the Oblates. They were so well attended and appreciated. They gave us the nourishment we craved for and so needed, at the time in history, on our journey. We would wait too, for the monthly publication of the “Our Family” magazine. Our first issue arrived in the mail, unannounced, as a gift for Christmas. Thank you. This delightful teaching tool inspired us and brought connection with the events and celebrations of the church on the prairies and beyond. The letters to Aunt Miriam were a highlight.
Needless to say, we were ever so sad when the Oblates decided to leave Vancouver Island in 2013, to assume their responsibilities in the Vancouver Community. Whoever or whatever could replace the charisma of the Oblate spirit? There was a sense of joy working alongside these faith-filled men of integrity, hope, love, and peace. Our liturgical celebrations need special mention here. Those early sunrise Easter Sunday liturgies are embedded in our memory, to stay. Alleluia was the word!
Our family will always be grateful for your friendship and years of dedicated missionary ministry here in Canada too, especially in our diocese if Victoria, BC. Each one, in your unique and dauntless way, anointed us with the Oil of Gladness. Considering that we might forget someone, we hesitate to mention names. Please know that personally and collectively, you have made a huge difference in our hurting and broken world by your presence, prayers, and action. We too, will always have a special place in our heart for the cross you wear.
May our beloved Oblate friends who have died, be embraced in love by the Mother of God, and our mother too.
Mary, Queen of peace, pray for us.
St. Eugene de Mazanod, pray for us.
Madge and Casey Weber
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