I was prepared to title a blog “Remembering Ten Years”, or something along that nature. That was before hearing a song I’ve not heard since I sang in the Baptist Church choir. The entire verses of “It Is Well” were sung as the meditation after communion at Mass this morning.
A lot has happened in the ten years since 9/11 and I do remember vividly my life at that moment. I had just returned to college the week prior to September 11, 2001. I had just completed the first of a two year catechetical program in Pastoral Ministry Formation. I was employed (and currently employed) for a major airline. I choose to hold privately in my thoughts the events I recall of that day and those subsequent trying days, weeks, and months in the airline industry.
I did a search on Horatio G. Spafford, the author of the hymn “It is Well.” The hymn was first sung in public on November 24, 1876. Horatio and his wife Anna had many tragedies in their lives. They had four daughters and one son. They lost their son to scarlet fever in 1870. Shortly thereafter, the Great Chicago Fire broke out and many, including the Spaffords, lost everything. Horatio and Anna dedicated much time to serving the poor and those in need. In 1873, they planned a trip to join with evangelical missionaries in Europe. Horatio sent his wife Anna and their four daughters ahead on the ship “Ville de Havre” with plans to join them later. The ship was impacted by another ship mid-voyage and sank. Of their family, only Anna was saved, their infant daughter pulled from her arms by the waves. Her telegraph to Horatio was “Saved alone, what shall I do?” The words to “It is Well” were penned around this tragedy. The full text of the story is here Horatio G. Spafford: The Story Behind the Hymn “It is Well with My Soul” “Saved Alone. What Shall I Do…”
My favorite verse is the last verse, “and Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight…”
In the Gospel of John Chapter 20, the Apostle Thomas doubts Jesus and must touch the wounds before believing in His resurrection. In verse 29, Jesus responds to them, “Have you come to believe me because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” It is this promise from Jesus that turns sadness and tragedy into joyful hope. Blessed assurance that Jesus is mine and I believe what He taught.
In honor of the upcoming beatification of Pope John Paul II, I share a favorite memory in the attached video. Second below is a video of our Young Adult pilgrim group from the Archdiocese of Atlanta being introduced at the general audience. My pilgrim friend got crazy with his video recorder at the end. The third video below is Pope John Paul II blessing the pilgrims from the United States of America.
If you have a memory you would like to share, record a Youtube video and check out this link for instructions http://sqpn.com/2011/04/20/honor-john-paul-ii-on-youtube/ I’m also posting mine on my personal blog.
Thirty years ago today, my grandfather — Papa, passed away. I think about him especially between Christmas and January 19th because I remember the last December. He was at Emory Hospital in December 1980. I remember the drive; I-75 to I-20 — Exit Memorial Drive — North to Briarcliff and a right on the By Way. We wound our way the back roads of Emory Village. The beautiful homes were elegantly decorated for Christmas. Many homes had no curtains and you could see the fanciness inside. I carried my school homework and a Seventeen magazine. I was sixteen. I dreamed about living in the homes we passed.
It had been a difficult year. My grandfather had lung cancer and he was on oxygen at home. I remember sitting next to his bed listening to him sleep. He had trouble with fluid on his lungs and he was afraid of not waking up. That’s really why I was sitting there — instructed to wake him up if I thought his breathing was getting bad. Looking back now, I remember that as precious time spent.
He was hospitalized in December and the last time in January. Papa was fully aware on that day thirty years ago. He asked for the family to gather — he waited until everyone arrived. We gathered around in prayer and maybe sang a hymn. My sister held his hand — my grandmother on the other side and the nurse. A few moments after we had prayed, the nurse simply said, “He’s gone.” It was quiet and peaceful — a falling asleep.
I left the room and walked away — around a hall to find a place alone. I stared out a window and cried. I had hoped so much for Papa to receive a miracle of healing. I was in disbelief for awhile.
Today, I’m not sad or even melancholy. I’m only aware that I wished I knew him longer — long enough to realize how much alike we are. He still finds ways to let me know he’s still there.