As September approaches I find myself in a reflective mood. September is full of meaning to me.
September isn't an easy month for me. In early September of 1996, we nearly lost our first-born son within days after his birth. Then in 2001, the day before that son's fifth birthday, my husband nearly lost his own life in the World Trade Center attacks. In both instances, I felt as if the ground beneath my feet had disappeared.
In the intervening years I also have come to see these experiences as a way for God to tell me to appreciate the precious, fragile lives of my loved ones, to never take their presence in my life for granted.
September also is a month in which I experienced the greatest blessing of my life: it's the month in which my husband and I married. It is impossible to imagine our lives without one another.
I'm no stranger to sorrow. I did not have a carefree childhood. I spent many years as a young adult truly believing that no one I had ever encountered struggled as much as I did. I knew in theory that other people had it rough, but I believed I knew of no one in particular who did.
Those thoughts and feelings are half a lifetime ago. Now I find myself understanding joy and sorrow weave into everyone's life. I guess I wasn't ready to see that then.
My perspective now is that the difficulties I have faced help me to be a more compassionate person. After all, how can share our hearts with our friends unless our hearts have been broken?
When I think about my friends, I see each is surrounded by blessings but each has faced loss. I also understand now the impossibility of measuring suffering.
Does my friend who lost her mother in childhood to an ectopic pregnancy feel as much loss as the friend whose father took his own life as an older man facing a inoperable cancer? Does the loneliness one friend feels from a failed marriage hurt as much as the pain of my friend who never found a lifetime partner?
As a Christian, I believe that nothing is random and that all our longings - for Beauty and Justice - one day will be answered. I believe we all have a purpose and a path and that our destination is Heaven.
I am reminded of the prayer said after the Eucharist and I feel it applies to anyone who is willing to be human.
Give us the abundant help of Your grace and ensure for us the joy of finding our names written in heaven.