How Great Thou Part

I am chatting with my friend, Crystal (as always, name changed to protect the innocent). The sadness in her voice is palpable. It is just about a week after the anniversary of her father’s death and days after returning from her brother-in-law’s funeral.

Crystal is reflective. Death brings this out in people.

I, too, am reflective because of the loss my family has suffered these past years and because I have just interviewed, Anna Whiston-Donaldson, author of “Rare Bird: A Memoir of Loss and Love.”

I reflect on a quote which I have just read.

“There are years that ask questions, and years that answer,” Zora Neale Hurston

This quote speaks to me.

These are the years that ask questions.

There is a baseline disillusionment with life that comes from losing someone young. At least that is how I feel after losing my precious nephew. The world is not as safe. Bad things do happen. There is unpredictability. I question ‘time’ and I have a new determination to make my purpose count since Matthew does not have another day to do so. I have an urgency to make things happen.

For my friend Crystal, she too, is reflective having lost her brother-in-law many years too soon. He was not an old man. He had not yet experienced the privilege of retirement and of spending luxurious time with his family. He was a giver. He volunteered and not the occasional type of volunteering, but the kind where you show up every week, at the same time to give of yourself.

“I find myself asking, ‘How am I living and loving the people I am touching while on this earth?’” says Crystal. “What am I doing here and what should I be doing that I am not doing?”

Crystal tells me that she feels as if she needs to start volunteering again, get involved and contribute more.

I reflect for a moment.

My thoughts go back to my uncle, Father Pat.

I called him one afternoon to tell him I wanted to volunteer in a soup kitchen in Washington, D.C. After all, if I was going to give, I wanted to give big, right?
“Colleen, why don’t you volunteer in your own backyard?” he said

“Oh,” I responded, quite deflated. There just didn’t seem to be quite the need in suburbia as there did a big city.

I tell Crystal this story. I tell her how I later learned Father Pat’s wisdom. I needed to be in my own backyard in order to live an authentic and consistent life of giving. Certainly, I could stretch outside its limits from time to time. However, it was the most immediate place where love, kindness, generosity and respect should filter first.

Crystal and I are searching for our purpose. The one that will make us feel that we are honoring God, ourselves and especially the love’s in our lives that we have lost.

We agree that we have no immediate answers.

For these are the years that ask questions.


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