Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Celebrating Life

This past weekend was all about celebrating life...which sounds like a good theme for the whole month of December, actually :)

Specifically, Saturday brought us an abundance of different emotions as we said goodbye to a saint who has gone Home, met a living saint (on her birthday!), and had the unique opportunity to be angels and serve some friends in need with love and joyful hearts!

Farewell, St. Ben of Pacific Beach

We attended the Funeral Mass of a great man (our dear friend Betty's dad, Ben Gingery) who truly lived a full life and touched the hearts of many throughout his 95 years on Earth.  A man who was deeply loved by his family and community.  A man rich in so many ways, especially in love, and who never forgot the poor.  In fact, he attracted the likes of Fr. Joe Carroll (Mr. San Diego 2012) and Mother Antonia (San Diego's version of Mother Teresa) to his service.   Matthew had the honor of knowing Mr. Gingery over the years, and I've enjoyed his company on occasion as well, though not quite like Matthew.  I think Matthew was always in awe of Ben's incredible ingenuity and mechanical-engineering mind.  I only knew him enough to think he was a nice guy, but oh the stories I've heard (especially on Saturday)!  So we celebrated the life and death of PB's Saint Ben on Saturday, and it was a beautiful celebration.

God works in funny ways sometimes...this day was not just about celebrating the life of someone who has gone on to join all the other saints and angels and to meet His Savior.  It was about celebrating life as a whole...

Meeting a "Celebrity..."

Little did I know that Mother Antonia (aka "Madre") would be at Mr. Gingery's service, but as soon as she was mentioned, I tugged on Matthew's sleeve and whispered "We have to go meet her!"  Madre and I have exchanged several letters over the past few years.  She founded the Eudist Servants of the Eleventh Hour many years ago, and she is one of my favorite people to give God's money to throughout the year.  Every gift I send includes a card and a short note and is always returned in kind by her.  So we've sort of become "pen pals" :)  and we'd never met in person.

After Mass, we scrambled around the parking lot until we found one of her sisters and eventually Madre herself.  She must have taken one look at me and wondered, "Who the heck is this silly, starry-eyed woman standing in front of me with that giddy smile on her face?!"  I introduced myself and offered my hand, and her response was purely awesome!  "Laticia Wood?!!  Oh come here, dear, and give me a HUG!!"  It was such a joyful moment for us both, and most definitely one of my closest moments to Christ this week.  So how does this relate to the "Celebrating Life" theme?  Saturday was her 86th birthday!  What a great gift for us both :)
(A fun note:  I'd sent her a pic of Matthew and me awhile back, and so I introduced Matthew as "My Matthew."  She looked at me and said, "This is YOUR Matthew...No, Dear, this is MY Matthew!"  I think Matthew enjoyed that ;))

Serving with a Joyful Heart

After Mr. Gingery's reception, Matthew and I got the opportunity to serve.  Betty & Co went to the cemetery and then everyone was going over to her & Bob's house for dinner.  So Matthew and I did a little shopping and then went over to prep the house for their arrival.  I can't remember having so much fun doing something like this before, and we did so with a lot of love.  As soon as Betty walked into the house, I offered her a glass of wine, and I believe she answered me before I'd even finished my sentence.  As others arrived, I continued to serve wine to other emotionally exhausted family members, and shortly thereafter, Matthew and I quietly slipped away, satisfied that our work was done and everything taken care of.  I was blessed with yet another "closest moment" on this day.  I was even surprised at how much I enjoyed serving our friends and their family.  It felt really good to be able to help them in a time of need, and I know they wouldn't hesitate to do the same for us.

So here's some food for thought...if you ever find yourself in a time of need, and a friend offers to help with a sincere heart, do them a favor and take that offer.  It will make you both feel good! :)

May God bless you this Advent season as we prepare to celebrate life later this month when we celebrate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.