Where Heaven and Earth Meet

The Church Triumphant

The world around us is full of signs and wonders revealing glimpses of the eternal.  Sadly, most of us are too busy in this world to look deeper and see into those glimpses.  But there are some things in life that seem to catch hold of us, demand or attention, and we come face to face with the Truth that whispers to our hearts every day, if only we’d stop and listen.

I experienced one such moment last week.  I received a telephone call on Friday that my grandpa had suffered another heart attack and this time, he was not expected to leave the hospital.  I rushed down, first by plane, then a three-hour drive, to be present at his bedside and with my family.  He passed away Saturday afternoon. 

What can I say about this time, this moment?  My grandpa and I were close; he left a lasting legacy to his family and friends of what it means to be a person of character and love.  He was born during the Great Depression and grew up on a farm in Oklahoma.  My grandpa didn’t talk about himself much, but his brothers shared a couple stories about him: in high school, he excelled in sports – football, basketball, and baseball.  He wasn’t a big man, but he was tough – once during a football play, he charged forward with the ball, and when he broke away from the other team, his helmet came off.  That didn’t stop him – he ran down the field and scored a touchdown.  When the coach saw one of his players running down field without a helmet, he was concerned.  That is, until he saw who it was.  Then the coach commented he would be concerned for any player that got in my grandpa’s way! 

I also learned from one of his brothers my grandpa tried out for the Cubs before deciding to enter the Navy toward the end of World War II.  He served in the South Pacific, and when he returned, he decided to not return to sports, but went to work on the oil fields as a tool man.  He was a man of action – if he saw a need, he stepped up to address it.  But he was never too busy for his family and friends; over the past week, we remembered many, many quiet sacrifices my grandpa made for others.  And there are other memories of my time with my grandpa: many conversations and stories I hope to never forget, spoken in his slow, Southern drawl. 

I could go on and on about my grandpa.  And while it is good to remember, to cherish those memories, I am touched even more by the reality that our life here is not the end.  I am consoled by the confidence I have in Jesus and His words, that He has gone to prepare a place for us, and when the faithful are finished with this life on earth, Jesus and the saints are waiting to welcome us to our true home.  This world is only a passing shadow compared to the wonders that await those who believe and follow Christ.  My grandpa believed that too and so I entrust him to the mercy of Jesus.

Following the example my grandpa gave to me, I hope to continue to strive in the mission God has laid on my heart – to run my race well and to lend a helping hand to those around me.  To pray for those who have no hope, who do not believe, that they too would come to know the fathomless love and mercy of Jesus. 

One of my favorite quotes is from Bl. Teresa of Calcutta: “Yesterday is gone.  Tomorrow has not yet come.  We have only today.  Let us begin.”  Time on this earth is so, so short.  Let us not waste one moment.

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