If you are like me, you sometimes wonder where God is in our unsettling and sometimes seemingly harsh world. You might like to hear this true story that shows God is alive in the people created in love.
Scripture tells us a story about the magi that followed a star that lead them to the Messiah. The Savior who had been promised to people for thousands of years to bring peace on earth and give people a sense of righteousness as children of God. The wise men found a child, born in a lowly manger, not in the richness of the King they expected. Regardless they brought him gifts worthy of a King. We have been told this child was sent by God into our world to teach us to live in peace and humility. We are told this child is God’s gift to all men and women, to all children of each race and nation. Today we all try to live as the child Jesus showed us when he became a man. We show our honor and our appreciation to Jesus when we follow our own star that also leads us to the Messiah. We try our best to bring peace and to offer gifts not only to God but to those in our life.
More than ten years ago a mother and daughter volunteered to become catechists. A catechists is one who decides that the faith, hope, and love that God has given to them is important enough to be shared with others. These particular two people taught stories of the Old Testament to grade six pre-teens. They volunteered their time even when they were facing a break up of an unhealthy marriage that had nothing to do with any behaviors of theirs. Over the years the mom worked at an area Catholic Shrine dedicated to our Blessed Mother and became a marketing manager for a non-profit organization. She wrote a poem on “Peace” that was published and prayed by many since then. Years after that she learned that a friend of hers had cancer. This was a cancer that led the life of this friend to an end in this world. She was someone who lived in the “here and now”. She lived in the “moment”. She lived following her star. She lived doing for others. She loved and she was loved.
Because both this mom and daughter loved their friend, and because they are “star followers” they have listened to their hearts once again and have creatively opened in our area, a place for anyone who is touched by caner to come and to “be”. This place is called “Moment’s House” in memory of their friend. At Moment’s House people who have family who are ill, or family who have died, come. People who are struggling with cancer come. They are given support and love and care. People come to the Moment’s House with gifts for others. Some come with their ability to meditate. Some come with their hands that massage and provide Reiki. Some come with water and tea and coffee to drink, and cupcakes, and cookies to eat. Some come to participate in a book club. Some come to learn to knit and crochet or to teach others to do so. Some come to design chairs with words of encouragement and wisdom hand painted on them. Some make financial donations that keep the possibility of helping in more various and specific ways. Some come because they need to chat and cry and heal.
One day I learned about Moment’s House and the good they are. I spoke of this place to the woman who leads our Ladies Guild in our Church. Oh by the way, the same community our mom and daughter served years ago. She willingly and happily invited Moment’s House to join us at one of our gatherings. The ladies came together to help make lap blankets that would be given to Oncology patients for comfort and warmth as they received the medicine to help them either maintain their health or extend their life. These hours together brought satisfaction and happiness to those making them. And they were merely, it turned out only a small expression of a large journey of love and care for others.
Months later, we read in the newspaper about young children who also took time to make more blankets. So the thought began that we could also make more blankets with the children in our community. Someone took the time to purchase the necessary material. Someone took the time to ask others to offer money to help with the cost of the material. This involved more people. Then we asked for some to help cut the material to size and to do other preparation.
Someone decided this was a thoughtful and great way to share the love with their own family members and began to make gifts for Christmas presents. These may not be cancer patients but they are children in a world that desperately needs to feel, and see, and experience the love of a Savior.
Someone who wanted to be with us and the children had a conflict but told the story of when her family lived in Germany as a military family. She spent some of her lonely hours making the same type of blankets for others. She had some left over and chose to donate them to Moment’s House.
The children will come together this weekend to spend time together because they care about others. The children will come together to offer precious time where they could be doing other things. The children will come together because of the example of adults who cared about others. Adults who took the time to do for others in spite of their own time restraints. Adults who learned to receive love and to give love.
This journey of the blankets, as you can see from the story, is not just about making blankets. It is about people caring for others. It is a story about people following their star. A people who have learned to listen to the message of God and to respond.
by Mary Lou Burdick
Director of Religious Education at St. Mark’s Parish Pittsfield MA