I’ve kept this letter in my files for many years, grateful to the person who wrote it, especially as I share it once again today. The writer is a nurse, and this is what she wrote —
It was a busy morning, about 8:30, when an elderly gentleman came in to the office to have stitches removed from his thumb. He said he was in a hurry, and had an appointment at 9:00. I took his vital signs and asked him to sit, knowing that it would be over an hour before the doctor could see him.
I saw him looking at his watch and decided I would evaluate his wound. On exam, it appeared to be well healed, so I talked to one of the doctors and got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redress his wound.
I asked the man if he had another doctor’s appointment that morning. He said no but that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife. I inquired about her health. He told me she had been there for a while and that she was a victim of Alzheimer’s disease.
I asked if she would be upset if he arrived a bit late. He said she no longer knew who he was and that she had not recognized him for the past five years. I was surprised and asked him, “And you still go every morning, even though she doesn’t know who you are?”
He smiled as he patted my hand and said, “She doesn’t know me, but I still know who she is.”
I had to hold back tears as he left; I had goose bumps on my arm. I thought, “That’s the kind of love I want in my life.”
True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be, and will not be.
The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.
Life isn’t about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain.
I think I need not explain to you why I keep that letter and read it every once in a while to myself or to others.
If love is the primary and most powerful force in the world, and if God is love, then the first and overriding task of our lives is to love ever more generously, unselfishly, purely and joyfully.
That’s what personal relationship and our Christian religion are essentially about.
– Personal relationship is not merely an agreement or a contract; it is a bonding of love.
– Our Christian religion is not merely a system of rules and rituals designed to keep us on the straight & narrow so that when we die we qualify for entrance into an imaginary place called heaven. It is, rather, a lived celebration of the presence of God in us now and in everyone and everything that surrounds us.
That’s why we are here this very hour and doing what we are doing.
That’s what we are pledging again to be and to do when we receive Jesus in the sacrament of Eucharist and when this ancient ritual called the Mass has ended.
My poor words are simply commentary. The real homily today is YOU and all the self-sacrificing, noble, patient, beautiful things you have done for the sake of others. May your lives continue to be filled with them because, no matter the cost, the results are always so much greater!