We were told the MRI would run about an hour, maybe ninety minutes. Every medical check-up we’ve ever had with the young miss has been good news. And there’s not much that can go wrong in magnetic resonance imaging.
After two-and-a-half hours, daughter emerged. After the new cardiologist looked her over, she was pronounced fit and healthy. Amazingly healthy and very close to normal, he said, given her condition.
The fourth week retreat exercises include this quote from St Ignatius:
We should use God’s gifts of creation however they help us in achieving the end for which we were created, and we ought to rid ourselves of whatever gets in the way of our purpose.
Cultivating indifference. We should choose, the retreat master writes, only what helps us attain the end for which we were created. At first glance, difficult words for me this week. Very difficult. What are you asking, O God?
As the minutes ticked away this morning, especially the ones past ninety, I was thinking about this. My wife and I are given a daughter to raise. But she is not our possession. She will likely live with us for a bit less than two more years. Then off to college, and to life beyond that.
Having a wife and a child make me a better minister in the Church. It is difficult to conceive of being better without either of them. But when the nest is empty, my calling from God will continue and continue to evolve. I will go, I hope, where I am sent.
The story of Abraham and Isaac, like many Old Testament tales, has always left me unsatisfied. Rabbinical exaggerations, I can tell myself, to illustrate an important matter: total reliance on and trust in God.
When I am the parent of an adult, I suppose I will need to let go in all sorts of emotional ways, all sorts of practical ways. I couldn’t give much substance to my prayer this morning, post-ninety-minutes. But surprisingly, the time went quickly. And I felt the relief and joy of reunion, that small reunion.
Yes, I have a daughter at home for a relatively short time–a fraction of my life, really. In being a father, I have learned something more about what it means to serve and to minister to God’s people. When I am not an everyday dad, I will put to use this time with the young miss. I won’t be too self-absorbed in missing her. Hopefully, I will be able to be more of a father and mentor and guide for the young people who pass through my church for a few years, then move on.
And it strikes me that eventually, I will pass on. And others will take their turn at being a parent, a director, a companion of experience. When I think of it in that way, I don’t feel sad for loss. I feel strangely free. I have done what I was called to do, served where I was needed.