Every morning a Marine, a deacon from my parish visits my home to pray with me, hear an act of contrition and offer me Holy Communion. Truth is, I'm not always awake. Some mornings, say after a painful night, he'll shake me by the shoulder, just enough to make sure I'm awake, offer me a blessing, and put the Host in my mouth. One half of an hour later, I get out of bed with the Host still in my mouth. This comforting ritual, if not always as deeply spiritual as I might hope, is a nice way to start the day, with my first thought of The Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Call him Ted and let me tell you about him. He's a Marine who survived one of those horrific landings in the Pacific (ironic name, huh?) in WWII, survive one particular morning. His special mornings began almost 60 years ago; a beach landing, all of his fellow Marines killed except for Ted: the lone survivor. If you've read much history of the Pacific Theater in WWII, you've read of these many D-Days, human waves under blistering fire sent charging-up a naked beaches on some atoll. Naturally, taking enormous casualties, then being called on to do it again and again. I can't imagine anyone surviving this.
He reminds me of this story often. He's never mentioned his own heroism, only that it was a miracle he lived. The way he describes that morning is as if he feels guilty for having made it out alive; on the one hand guilty, yet on the other grateful that of 400 men one day, all but one was killed.
Ted feels so deeply touched by this miracle that he's since committed much of his life to helping other people. He speaks from a faith so deep that he describes Christ as "the only eternal truth in this world."
If I tell him that my doctors have given me a bleak prognosis for recovery, he's shocked and says, "Only God knows that." When I'm awake, we chat and I feel "weak" complaining. This morning though, I confessed to him that not only was I down in the dumps, but was in a lot of pain; really struggling to be a good husband and father and that my faith was waning.
His idea was that we pray again for my complete recovery. I lost my temper a bit. I told him two things: first, that God had given me many opportunities in life and that now, if I chose to see it this way, my pain was also an opportunity. I'm in pain because He's got some task for me that required my pain. Then I explained this blog. I see this blog as my responsibility to try to help people who are in worse shape than I am. I told him about the beautiful emails I receive from you from all over the world. Many shock me giving the writers and photographer of this blog far too much credit. Comments roll in, other blogger sites that I participate on send touching praise. I sometimes wonder if this blog is one big prayer; certainly not better or worse than any other prayer, just big. I think I overstepped when I said that I see this post, and every other one in the blog, as a calling. Sure, we're all hurt here, but we have the chance to offer some goodness. As with all human endeavors, I and we at this blog sometimes do it well, sometimes poorly. His will be done...
Two birds with one stone that is really two steps: we write, as best we can to share His grace because we feel pain, which I'd rather not have; and in my case, penance due for sins long since past and still to come.
I told Ted I wasn't going to pray for my pain to be lifted. I have pain because I need it to do as He will have me do. I'm done now except for one thing: this gentle, faithful tough old Marine said to me as he left, Semper Fi. I took this as a compliment, particularly coming from him. I said, Always Faithful.
He wiped a tear and thanked me for the strength I'd given him. I hadn't give him a thing...my back hurt.
His will be done, regardless of our intentions. He uses us as he sees fit. He touches people through us. God bless us all, Colin