the simple things…

With the anniversary of 9-11 close at hand, my mind goes back to that day and those images. The planes hitting the towers, reports of more planes and targets, images of bodies falling…of buildings falling…of smoke and debris.

The urge to leave my job and rush to my children was overwhelming. I felt helpless…afraid. So, I did the only thing I could think of…I prayed.

The days and weeks that followed brought images of heroes, rushing into buildings, of strangers hugging and helping each other, of truckloads of supplies being sent to those in need. Story after story of sacrifice and great courage.

But one story, in particular, stuck with me. The story of Todd Beamer, a passenger on United Flight 93. He had been on his cell phone and knew that their situation was not an isolated event. That others had been hijacked and used as weapons. Determined not to let that happen, he and some other passengers decided to storm the cockpit and keep the plane from it’s intended target.

Todd’s last recorded words at the end of his call were these:

“Are you ready? Okay… Let’s roll.”

Saturday was our first Deacon Formation class. Jim and I got up very early and drove to Belleville. The weather was awful as Hurricane Gordon dumped rain over the Midwest. But excitement mixed with a bit of nervous energy urged us on.

We arrived in time to meet and greet with some of the other candidates and their wives. We began the day with Mass and then Fr. Julian Peters, from St. Meinrad, spoke to us on discernment and gave us information to help us get off to a good start.

After lunch, the focus was on learning to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. (Shout out and thanks to Holly Vaughn, for giving us a crash course in January.) We practiced it and then we closed out our day by praying the evening prayer together.

Our last session was mostly Q & A. Fr. Peters cautioned everyone that there might be classes or assignments or other things that are asked of us that we might not understand the importance of at the time. The last thing he told us was, “Don’t ask God why this happening but what do you want me to do with it? Trust in the process…just do as you are asked.”

Famous last words. Have you ever thought about it? What might your last words be? A message to a loved one…some unfinished business…words of regret or forgiveness? It doesn’t have to be your last words ever…but what if it’s the last words someone remembers you saying?

About a week ago, Jim, while reading a copy of Deacon Digest, posed this question to me… “Do you know the last recorded words in Scripture that Mary spoke?”

Hmmm. I thought about Pentecost, since that was the last mention of Mary in the Bible. From there I went backwards…at the tomb, the cross?

I could come up with Jesus’ last words…Father, into your hands I commend my spirit. But Mary’s?

“John 2:5…at the wedding of Cana.” Jim told me. Her words?

Do whatever he tells you.

Wow. That’s pretty simple…and yet, so powerful. Do whatever he tells you. Love thy neighbor…do it. Care for the widows and orphans….do it. Follow me…do it.

There were many times when Derek and Craig were younger that we used those words…Do it! Sometimes they were spoken in anger or fear or with a sense of urgency. We wanted them to trust what we were telling them without always needing to know the whys and what-fors. But human nature bids us to ask why.

I’m no different…even when it comes to what God is telling me to do. Sometimes, most times, I can’t see that a word spoken or a word withheld, an action or inaction, is going to make that big of a difference in the whole scheme of things. I mean, who am I, that anything I say or do would have that kind of impact?

But God can…see the end result, that is. God sees the big picture, while I stand trying to analyze the tiny puzzle piece that I hold. We ask why…why not…what’s next…what if…and the questions go on.

But Mary…she knew the struggle. Not just for a handful of servants and some jars of water. She knew from that point forward that people would struggle to hear and obey Jesus. So she made it simple for us…Do whatever he tells you.

Author Max Lucado illustrated this beautifully in his book, Traveling Light. The story is told of a man on an African safari, deep in the jungle. The guide had a machete and was whacking away the tall weeds and thick underbrush. The traveler, wearied and hot, asked in frustration, “Where are we? Do you know where you are taking me? Where’s the path?”

The seasoned guide stopped and looked back at the man and replied, “I am the path.”

Do whatever he tells you…just do what you are asked to do. It sounds so simple…

Lord, as we move forward through our formation, we ask for your continued guidance and strength. We thank you for the countless hours that have gone into the creation of this program and those committing their time and resources to bring it to us. Help us be patient and appreciate each moment of the process. Give us hearts eager to learn and minds open to receive what is presented. Thank you for all of our family and friends that continue to lift us in their prayers. Amen.

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