Thursday, July 2, 2009

What is Really Important?

Can an HRC give you an AH HA Moment?

When I awoke the other morning, I had this story in my head that I wanted to relate to my readers.

It happened many years ago when my then wife (as opposed to my now wife) and I were members of a small parish here in London Ontario. The pastor was Fr. Jim Williams, who stood 6 foot 4 inches tall and was called "Tiny" Williams by those who loved him. I have no idea what those who feared him called him (probably "Sir"). He was Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia of the Diocese and Grand High Mucky Muck also for all I know, and a good man, excellent priest and a fine preacher.

But, to my point. His homilies often started like this: "I am going to tell you a story, and it is a true story." Well, I am going to tell you a story and it is a true story, and you may choose to believe it or not.

About 18 years ago, when my children were small and we lived in Tiny's parish, which was tiny, even though he wasn't, we met some very fine people, which you, of course run the risk of doing at any time, anywhere. Many of them had young children like we did and so children's activities at the church were a magnet for developing relationships. Another was the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). I was sponsoring a male friend who was planning on joining the church, and the wife of another friend of mine was sponsoring a young woman who was planning on joining as well.

The young woman who was joining was special. We all knew it, and she was very much in love with her husband. Even though they were both young she was his second wife, as his first wife had drowned in a scuba diving accident. She was a teacher in one of the local Catholic high schools, and as a young teacher got the left overs as part of the drill.

As the RCIA programme, which started in September worked its way towards its festive conclusion at the Easter Vigil, we all fell in love with her. Her beautiful faith and sweet personality won over all our hearts.

But she had a health problem. Her lungs were not strong. Her principal had given her last choice of home rooms and she had gotten the one nearest the student's smoking pit, not a problem for most people, but not a good thing for her. It made her sicker day by day.

Here's the thing. She spoke to the principal and asked for reassignment, but he would not accommodate her request. She did not complain to her union representative. She did not file a Human Rights Commission complaint. She endured the situation. Did she make the right choice? You decide when you read the end of the story.

In late winter, one day she was taken by ambulance to hospital from school. She went into a coma from which she never recovered. She was in the coma for a couple of weeks. The woman who sponsored her and her husband and I visited her often, as did others who had become her friend. Her husband was needless to say devastated. We were all very distraught that such a tragedy could befall this beautiful young woman, and felt particularly sad for her husband. We were praying for a miracle.

Then one afternoon, a day or so before she died, I was sitting in the waiting room at the ICU of the hospital with my friends, and went in to sit at her bedside and pray for her and her husband. I begged God fervently to heal her. I mean, I used big words and everything. I had my head down and was holding her hand as I praised God and exhorted him to do the right thing for this young woman and her husband. HAH! I look back at that moment and my arrogance astounds me, but God's answer to my prayer was even more astounding. Here's the Ripley's moment.

For some reason I looked up then, and over beside the bed, I saw Jesus Christ standing there with the young woman standing beside him in her hospital gown holding his hand, yet she was still bodily lying in the bed. I looked at Him, and then at her, seeing the bright smile on her face. I stammered something like: "Ok, then," got up and left the room.

I went outside to my friends, told then what I had seen, and for the first time in a while we were all at peace with whatever was going to happen with our friend and her husband.

She passed away shortly thereafter. After the funeral, I told her husband what I had seen, and it helped him have peace about her death. He moved away and I have not seen him since, though he is in the county somewhere I believe. I hope he is well.

My friends purchased a Catholic book store, The Mustard Seed here in London, which the wife runs and it is a testament to their faith. And me. I am blogging what you are reading here.

Did our young friend, now deceased, make the right choice?

Is that even the right question? "All things work to good for those that trust the Lord." Her faith in life and death inspired her husband, my friends and me, and countless others. We all saw the beauty of God's creation in another human being, if only briefly. We had Ah Ha moments.

Tell me, have any of you ever had an Ah Ha moment brought to you courtesy of your local HRC? Yet, we are all created for these moments.

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