Monday, April 6, 2009

Left Behind

Faith in Jesus Christ is an incredible gift. A gift meant to be shared. A gift meant to be used and passed on and practiced. To truly love one another, to pass on God’s love to one another, is not just to profess but to practice.

My father set his goal early in married life to have twelve children with his high school sweetheart and a Cadillac big enough to fit them all. His goals would have been a reality in the children department plus one if all of their children had lived. Frank Gerard was just a year younger than me but I know he was only home for a couple of days before he died because of complications from a hole in his heart. What my parents must have gone through with each child they sent back, I could never imagine. But, they never missed a beat with us kids handling tragedies and sadness with strength and faith. Now the Cadillac part would have been a more difficult fulfillment because the car department was never my father’s strong suit. As children began to drive, his buddy A.J. would call him with some deal on his lot, some handed down beauty he referred to as GAUgeous, that would eventually end up in our driveway. Regardless of how we had to get “the deal” started, it always miraculously got us where we had to be with minutes to spare. With a large number of kids comes not just car and other material challenges but also the challenge of passing on the faith and the basic responsibility of passing on the tools to get us all to Heaven. The basics so no one’s left behind. Often we would hear at restaurants and the beach and the grocery store, “Lady, do you ever leave someone behind somewhere?” “Have you ever forgotten one of your kids?” “Do you have to count heads when you get in the car?” We all just laugh because we’ve heard it all before and we like to entertain the masses.

During Easter, Kuhns Variety Store entertained all of the children in the area with their selection of live pastel baby chicks for sale. I coveted those chicks. Each year I begged and each year I was given the “destined to die due to coloring” speech. However, this particular year, our backyard neighbors received three chicks for Easter and I spent hours visiting and playing with the tiny gifts I thought should be mine.
Three weeks after Easter and after the deaths of two of the chicks, mom had signed us up for arts and crafts at the Metro Parks and Recreation Center; a means of passing on her love for art. I happened to be at the neighbors when the station wagon was scheduled to leave and did in fact pull from the driveway. My mom noticed my absence when she arrived at the park and called to ask our neighbors if I could stay there until they were finished with class an hour later. By the time the wheels rolled back in the drive, I was steaming that I had been left behind. Mrs. Robinson called into the back yard that my family had come back. I could see that and I called right back to her that I hoped her damned ol’ chicken died. Needless to say, using profanity did not go over well with my parents. I got a good “talking to” and a long period of time alone to “think about it”.

Jesus left us with simple rules that my parents, mostly by example, tried their best to pass on to each of us. Rules to live by in the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes and the Works of Mercy and the other many lessons and parables given to us in the Gospels. Life seems so well laid out by His rules. We can love one another; really simply love one another and all will be well. Or, we can ignore His teachings and His great love for us and all our parents have tried daily to pass on. Big enough Cadillac or not, we still have to actually get in or we will be “left behind”.

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