God is in the kindness of others, the love we see, the love we receive.
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Yesterday was my birthday – the best birthday I have ever had.
Each step in the day unfolded as if to say in a plain clear way: Bob, love is here and you are surrounded by it. A message sometimes illusive in a life, other times forgotten, misplaced amid the swirl of a life and the clash of events – far and near.
Mass in the morning in a small chapel with my former neighbors, who are too kind to me, always welcoming, always thoughtful. They did not know it was my birthday, they did not need to know to be warm and receptive. They are just that way. Evidence of God’s presence in each of them – sharing their love with me.
A quiet conversation with my friend, Mike – about family and about grace. God’s presence again. Love and friendship shared – real human contact. Men sharing life.
A lunch with my dear friend Phyllis – just the two of us at her table. A meal lovingly prepared and offered. That’s Phyllis – always caring, always sharing, always remembering and reaching out. Again, God’s presence – so warmly given.
A chance meeting with Mike’s wife Mary Fran – and more purposeful conversation – always concern about family and joy in hearing of their health and success, the growth of children, the twists and turns of our adult children and the friends we share.
Each of these a prelude to the best birthday experience I have had: dinner with my son, his wife, my little month-old grandson Jack and wee Bonnie – a little being in a dog costume.
This was my first ever birthday dinner with a grandchild. Wonderful.
Last night I saw a family. I saw what a child does to summon us as one.
I saw my daughter-in-law Mary and the unique being of a woman, a mother – it is as if Jack is part of her. She handles Jack with a natural comfort and tenderness that says: I am a mother, I love, this is what I do – and it takes no learning.
I saw so clearly that we cannot survive or be complete without a woman being a woman. I saw how we are designed to be – that it is not right that man might be alone. I saw that women must be as they are meant to be for us to be well, for our society to be at peace. I saw that we as men must remember that we are to honor women, treat them with respect and love them for who they are – and what they do so well, so generously.
I saw as well the ease with which my son Jared responded to being “Dad.” Here in my sight is the little guy I have known and loved who now is a man of achievement, a man who mastered an exceedingly difficult Ph.D. whose range stretches from complexity science to tender-hearted, proud father, thoughtful and loving husband and son.
I saw a family – I saw love, and joy, and the gratefulness that comes from receiving a child as a divine gift.
Yesterday God celebrated my birthday with me.