When I was younger, almost half a century ago, one of the big events at Christmas happened late at night on the eve at the family home. With all of the extended family gathered at a specified hour, the phone (big and black and tethered to the wall) would ring. It was a call from the family in Slovenia similarly gathered. Aunt “Oh” (Olga) would talk to our cousin Stanko and relay what was being said at the other end of the wires to all as they sat quietly and waiting patiently.
This morning I received a text message from our mission team in El Salvador. As I sat typing my bulletin column there was a “ting!” and this came up:
“Safe and sound in El Salvador! Really hot here!”
“I was praying for you guys! All is well?”
“Yes! Different from last time, but good. Cleaning the orphanage today and climbing a mountain. Erica misses you.” (Reader: Erica is a young resident of the orphanage that I became close to on the last trip)
“Please tell her hello and that I am praying for her and all of you.”
And the whole conversation was carried on without much thought. How easy it is to take things for granted because we are used to them. Our connectedness, our level of health, electricity, that there will be a more advance iPhone. All the great things in life you can take for granted. Family, close friends, neighbors, you just expect them to be there (and shocked when they are there no longer.)
Even the Eucharist can fall into this category. We can become so accustomed to the Eucharist that we forget how incredibly special it is. We forget to be thankful, reverent, careful, and to be promoters of the faith and vocations.
It’s good to be extra observant from time to time, to look around and realize thing need not be the way they are. It is all gift. It could all disappear in the twinkling of an eye either from neglect, unthankfulness, or life. If you want to fully enjoy what you have while you’ve got it, be thankful. If you want to preserve it while it is yours, be aware of it. If you want to be happy(er), offer your gratitude.