“What do we live for, if not to make life less difficult for each other?” George Eliot
In 19th-century England, a young writer named Mary Ann Evans assumed the pen name George Eliot and began publishing novels that were acclaimed for their realistic character development and compelling plotlines. This quote (originally published with slightly different wording) is from her fourth major work, “Middlemarch,” which is widely considered to be unsurpassed among novels of the Victorian age. The line was picked up and disseminated with slight variations appearing in subsequent publications, but the sentiment remains consistent: To be of service to the people in our lives is one of the most important things we can do with our time.
This quote from Inspiring Quotes is so appropriate for this day that marks eight years since my husband’s death. To be of service was important to him all his life, but most specifically the last 35 years when he was a Permanent Deacon in the Catholic Church.
Next to his family, nothing filled his heart with more happiness than to be a Deacon, active in ministry to the poor, as well as his various liturgical and sacramental functions. The first time I heard and saw him preach, I knew he’d found his niche. This man, who was normally quiet and introverted, became animated and spoke to a congregation of several hundred people with no hesitations or faltering over words. He told me later it was a God thing, and I believe it.
Through these years of missing him, I vacillate between missing him most as my husband, or as a father, or as a deacon – Servant of God.
Okay, I’ll be honest here. The husband role trumps the others, which is probably why I listed it first, and I have wonderful memories of those crazy years of raising kids, including what an important part he played in all that. Still, even today as I look at the picture of him at the altar that I have here in my office, my heart swells. His ministry nurtured a part of his soul that needed fertilizer.
This picture was taken shortly before he retired from the diaconate, just a few years before he died. Even though his health was failing, he resisted retirement for a long time. While part of me wanted him to stop, not to keep pushing himself, another part of me knew that even though his heart was failing, it still urged him to go on as long as he could.
This is another one of my favorite pictures of Carl.
That sheep, Marie, had been bottle-fed as a lamb and was still quite domesticated when we all lived at Grandma’s Ranch out in the country. While she was out of the back pasture one day, she went over to have a chat with that man on the back steps.
Okay, that’s all from me for today folks. If you’re interested, you can check out the collection of Carl’s preaching, Homilies From the Heart. He was very ecumenical in his approach to religion and preaching, so you don’t have to be Catholic to enjoy what he had to say.
Have a safe and fun rest of the Labor Day weekend.