The handwriting was precise and deliberate; the message thoughtful and detailed. Aunt Barbara had just lost her husband of seven decades to a fierce battle with cancer, but even in her searing grief, she was quick to thank all those who had sent flowers or cards.
“I loved Jack so much, and I miss him so much,” she wrote. “Our 68 years were not long enough.”
My eyes lingered on those words, which seemed all the more remarkable in a culture where lasting commitments to anything — relationships, jobs, even one’s own God-given identity — have become increasingly rare. We are restless, impatient; the least dissatisfaction or distraction drives us to search for that elusive something, or someone, that will satisfy a yearning we cannot fully describe or name. Perhaps a good meal, or a new spouse, or more money, or a different career will silence the nagging urge that haunts us when we are alone with our thoughts. At any rate, we must find “it,” and fast, since time is running out.
Yet for those in love, clocks and calendars mark how little time actually means. Hours melt into years, and the still heart desires to linger with the beloved. Even after 68 years of mundane to miraculous married life, Aunt Barbara could say, “I wanted more, and only death itself prevented me.”
The Lord knows that same desire, and he aches for us to share it.
Our empty pews, our dusty baptismal fonts, our unopened Bibles, our locked tabernacles — all bear silent witness to a Lover forgotten, or worse, scorned. Mass is an “obligation” that we have neglected, because we have failed to perceive the One who calls us, and the feast he has prepared. Confession is, for many, an affront; we prefer to absolve ourselves in silence, rather than return to the unseen, almighty arms whose embrace would cleanse and heal us.
“If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’” Jesus told the Samaritan woman, “you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (Jn 4:10). He is no less than “the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev 22:13). In him, “all things hold together” (Col 1:17); in him “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
Mary, the sister of Martha, fell so deeply in love with the Lord that food itself was of little consequence. While Martha fretted over serving Jesus and his disciples, Mary “sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he said” (Lk 10:38). Dinner could wait; love could not.
One day, the Lord will abolish time itself, that we might dwell with him in a place where he “will wipe every tear from (our) eyes,” and “there will be no more death, or mourning or crying or pain” (Rev 21:4). In that realm, God himself will be the very light by which we behold him: “The city does not need the sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp” (Rev 21:23).
Uncle Jack now awaits Aunt Barbara at the gates of that city, and the love they knew in marriage will be transformed into a divine fullness we cannot grasp on this earth.
Our Beloved gave his very life to prepare that place for us, so that where he is, we also may be (Jn 14:3). At this very moment, and in countless ways, he calls each and every one of us to a joy for which only eternity itself will be long enough. May he also grant us the grace to hear and to heed so wondrous a summons.
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