I received a Hallmark coupon in the mail the other day. Though I often save coupons only to find them after they’ve expired, I was careful with this one. Our address book is falling apart and I hoped to use the coupon toward a new one. I also needed Father’s Day cards. When I eventually made my way to Hallmark, I found my cards as expected. I also found that address book in spite of the fact that most people reference electronic files for contact information these days. At home, when I began editing our address book, I felt like a dinosaur. Still, I persisted because I enjoy flipping through the pages of loved ones whom we’ve accumulated over the years. When I compiled our now dilapidated address book, I created a file from our Christmas Card address label file. I added phone numbers and arranged the labels on each page. I thought printed labels would look better and take less time to transfer than rewriting all of those names, addresses and phone numbers. I was correct. In spite of the wear and tear that old address book had endured, the labels inside remained intact. The wonderful memories that emerged as I worked also remained.
When I clicked open that file, I told myself that it could not be more than two years old. After looking through the names and addresses listed, I realized that the file was at least five years old. Many of the changes I would make are the result of milestones crossed, including college graduations, marriages, empty nest downsizing, postpartum upsizing and adventurous relocations. As I edited, I enjoyed fond memories of good times past. With each change, I considered how blessed my family and our loved ones have been over the years. When I made my way half way down the fourth page of the file, my little joy-fest took a turn as I read the names of my sister and her husband. Both passed away just a few years ago, first Pete and then Cecele. Though I no longer need their address, I was hard-pressed to delete it. “You’ll always have a place in my book,” I told them. With that, I saved their label.
As I continued on, I found my friend Jean’s name and those of my cousin Norbert and Aunt Elizabeth. All three reside above as well. “Yes, your names will stay, too!” I told them. As I went on, I added my youngest granddaughter’s name. I also added my second daughter-in-law. “Claire is four and Tim and Kim have been married five years,” I chided myself. “It’s too bad that their baby isn’t due until October. It’ll be another five years before I add his or her name to this file!” As I considered my son’s impending fatherhood, my dad, my stepdad and my father-in-law came to mind. Other “Fathers” who have touched my life also came to mind… Father O’Connell, Father Klein, Father Phil and Father Farrell… It occurred to me that I should celebrate Father’s Day by making them all new labels for my address book. So it went until I had to set aside my updating to begin this writing.
When I turned to the scriptures, I found Mark’s familiar story of Jesus, the disciples and that terrible storm (Mark 4:35-41). It was evening when Jesus and his friends neared the seashore. Jesus asked them to board a boat and to take him to the opposite side. Jesus must have been very tired because he quickly fell asleep on a cushion near the stern. When a frightening squall arose and waves threatened to flood the boat, the disciples woke Jesus. “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” they cried. Jesus responded by quieting the storm. Afterward, he turned to the others and asked, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” Jesus had promised to remain with the disciples throughout their journey across that sea and everywhere else. What the disciples didn’t understand was that Jesus never promised smooth sailing throughout the duration.
When I return to work on my address file, I will bring renewed appreciation for my loved ones here and in the hereafter. I’ve decided to add a few pages in the back of the book where I’ll list my loved ones passed. Though my loved ones in the hereafter are out of my sight, they are in perfect view of the One who matters most. You know, God is not always visible to any of us, yet we are completely visible to God. The storms which invariably disrupt our days will come and go. All the while, God’s attention to you and to me will remain steadfast. Just as I treasure every name listed in my address book, God treasures you and me. God treasures each of us as the loved ones we truly are.
Happy Father’s Day!
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