Three-Sixty

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My girl

We’ve come full-circle.

Three hundred and sixty-two days ago, my eldest daughter and I were in a car accident. She had her permit and was merging onto the freeway the first time. It was the very definition of an accident—it was no one’s fault—but it totaled our old minivan and ruined Emma for driving until the pavement warmed up and dried off in spring.

Three hundred sixty-two days ago, I realized how illusory my sense of control is and exactly how much I love my children.

I worried how Emma would respond to the snow this winter. Today the question was answered definitively: We have another licensed driver in family. Congratulations, Rosebud. You deserve it—and I know you’ll be careful out there. You know better than most.

I love you, girl.

From Poland, With Love

The weekend before last, my oldest son and I visited my parents in Michigan in order to work with Dziadzi in his shop on an electric guitar Bren is rebuilding and to connect with the Russell Kirk Center as he contemplates life after the University of Mary and—possibly—graduate school.

It was a good visit, as always, but it included three beautiful surprises: two different species of flower descended from my great Busia’s flowerbeds and a beautiful family story. Continue reading

The Phantom Cross

A little more than a week ago, we dropped our second son Gabe off at the NET Center in St. Paul to begin training for nine months of drawing young people to Christ as a NET Ministries missionary. Then yesterday we dropped our eldest, Brendan, off for his third and final year at the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota.

As we sped east on I-94 last night, Jodi reflected that we hadn’t taken a photo of Bren as we dropped him off this year. The first year we took several. Last year I snapped one of Brendan and his roommate Nick for Jodi, since she couldn’t be there when I dropped him off. This time we were both there, and it was clearer than ever that our adult son has another beautiful life, mostly hidden from us. This was revealed during a brief stop  at his girlfriend Becky’s home in Moorehead for introductions and delicious, homemade double-chocolate-chip-and-almond scones on the way to UMary, by the laughter and embraces upon his arrival on campus, the excitement and shouted greetings from hallways and upstairs windows, the verbal and non-verbal shorthand between our son and his friends. He belongs there as much as in our home, and we were so subconsciously aware of this that dropping him off and driving away seemed almost natural.

It was not precisely so when we dropped off Gabe. I’ve reflected briefly on the difference when we celebrated his grad party earlier this summer: When we took Bren to Bismarck the first time, the sensation was like a long, taut line from me to him—I could not see him, but I could feel him and was acutely aware of his presence six hours to the west. But Gabe was dropped off just down the road in St. Paul, at a place he has been before. Currently he is at a camp somewhere in the woods, praying and team-building and training like countless times previously. From this perspective, this feels like no big deal—Gabe is doing youth ministry as he has for years now.

On the other hand, this time he is not coming home until Christmas and will be gone again until spring. And if he is chosen for a traveling team, as he hopes, he won’t be in any one place, but will live out of a suitcase, a van and a trailer, staying in strange homes in strange cities. Continue reading

Heartstrings II

Blogger’s Note: This is the latest in a collection of daily posts outlining my journey to the Sacred Heart over the past year or more. See an overview and links to past posts here.

301091_2215092411351_1388302_nAs with my first “Heartstrings” post, I keep noticing little connections to the Sacred Heart from earlier in my family life.

Posted to Facebook, Sept. 4, 2011: “A little end-of-summer love: Gabe saw it first; Emma noted that she was wearing her Burning Love t-shirt (featuring 1 Corinthians 13:4-7: ‘Love is patient, love is kind…’), and Trevor noticed it has three nails in it, just like Jesus…”

This is the shirt Emma was wearing in the post above. Notice the image of the Sacred Heart on it. I picked it for her.

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Heartstrings

Blogger’s Note: This is the latest in a collection of daily posts outlining my journey to the Sacred Heart over the past year or more. See an overview and links to past posts here.

It’s been a long week, headed into a working weekend and another long week, and I’m short on sleep. Rather than write a long, rambling, and unfocused Sacred Heart post, I think I’ll share this little piece instead.

As a kid I remember my sister and I spending a week in the summer at the farm where my mom grew up. I remember exploring the barn and watching the painted turtles in the water tank dive to the bottom when the cows came to drink. I remember Dziadzi’s dog King, and the screech of Guinea fowl, and Busia’s big, bountiful garden. I remember the big tire swing in the willow behind the house, and the mystery of Sunday Mass just up the road at St. Michael Catholic Church in Wilmot. (Yet another St. Michael parish in my life, along with this one and our current one.) Continue reading