David and I married on a Saturday in August and on the following Monday, we packed all of our earthly possessions in a U-Haul, and left the Midwest for a new life that awaited us in Boston. We left behind every family member and friend that we had except for each other.
What’s your image of heaven? Years ago, the editors of U.S. Catholic magazine conducted a survey of their readers’ notions of heaven. Many respondents pictured heaven as a rural setting such as a walled garden, a mountaintop cabin, or a haven in the woods.
My sister’s friend Natalie was the richest girl in our town, mainly because most of her father’s property was owned by trusts in her name. She and her mother even had streets named after them, Rose Avenue and Natalie Lane.
At our house, Sunday lunch was pasta. It always had been and I guess that I always expected that it would be. When I left home and went off to college, after the Sunday community Mass, the entire seminary population would gather in the dining hall for a big banquet meal.
One of my favorite movie moments occurs in The Christmas Carol when Ebenezer Scrooge throws open his shutters on Christmas morning and looks out on the world with new eyes. His late-night encounters with the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future had shaken his preconceived notions about what to value in life.
Jesus said to love one another, and each of us tries in small ways to do just that. It is a given that we strive to love parents, siblings, spouses, children, friends. But even to those outside our intimate circles we do our best—on a good day—to offer simple courtesies and acts of kindness.
I recently started taking horseback-riding lessons. On the first day, my teacher Karen said, “You’ll ride Echo. She’s very sensitive.” Oh, great, I thought. I had only ever ridden old nags before. But Echo is a young thoroughbred—and what a difference.
A friend was talking about a time she was sorely tempted toward revenge. A person at work had hurt her and now it was in her power to turn the tables. She found out something about this co-worker that would have deeply embarrassed the woman, and my friend savored the possibility of spreading the news.
The companies that most often appear on Fortune magazine’s list of the top 100 companies to work for don’t necessarily have the best opportunities for growth, the most competitive salaries, or the most generous benefits packages. A common thread of companies that appear on the list year after year is an appreciation of the good work being done by each employee.
There seems to be a primordial instinct in most human beings to support the underdog. We read about it in fairy tales like “Jack and the Beanstalk.” We see it in sports with the lithe receiver avoiding the onrushing linebacker twice his size. It happens in politics when the candidate without the clout takes on the political powerhouse and wins.