In the early 1970’s while a volunteer with the Glenmary Sisters in Kentucky, I finalized plans to join the Sisters of the Precious Blood, Dayton Ohio. I planned a trip to Cincinnati to meet the Sisters at St. Mark’s parish where I would live. I hoped for a fun trip for three girls from the parish who had never been outside of Kentucky. We stayed at the Glenmary Motherhouse in Cincinnati and after my visit to St. Mark’s planned to drive another two hours to visit my parents.
The girls stayed with the Glenmary Sisters while I drove to St. Mark’s. I got lost. I stopped at a gas station to ask directions. As I walked away from the car, the car slipped out of gear and hit a gas pump. The gas pump burst into flames. Pandemonium ensued. I jumped back into the car and quickly moved it away from the gas pump. Fire engines and police officers arrived. I stood shaking by the gas station. I talked with a police officer and told him what happened. He was kind. He told me three city blocks could have exploded if the fire hit the underground gas tanks. After meeting with the Sisters at St. Mark’s I went back to the Glenmary Motherhouse. We did not tell the girls about the incident. They had a wonderful time at my parents home and never knew about the near disaster. I never forgot that day which changed my life.
I felt profoundly grateful the girls were safe, the firefighters contained the fire, and no one was hurt. Everything was right in my world. I saw life as gift. Flowers were brighter, the air fresher. I was not annoyed by others idiosyncracies. I thanked God continuously. The incident transformed me if even for a while.
In the Christian scriptures we hear the story of the transfiguration— a moment of transformation, deep insight and understanding, when all seemed right in their lives. They felt the Divine within and around. The apostles wanted to stay in that moment, but Jesus told them we are not meant to stay in the same moment but to move on, journey into other times while allowing gratitude to form the basis of our lives.
Lent invites gratitude for the presence of the Divine within us and for beauty around us even in the midst of sadness, confusion, difficulties and the changes of life. Gratitude even changes relationships. With gratitude there is less tendency for jealously or envy where we look away from Divine Life and goodness within. With a grateful heart the song of the bird echoes continuously in our ears, beautiful sunsets content our hearts and splashing water beside majestic rocks brings refreshment and delight. Lent invites us to embrace gratitude.
Blessings and peace,
Suggestion for Reflection: What is taking place in my life? How is this time of Lent inviting me to gratitude? How do I express gratitude?