This morning a talk show host named Patrick Madrid on Catholic Radio told of how he was at a conference, speaking to a group of men. Another gentleman spoke of appreciating and using our time wisely, and to illustrate his point he spoke of a certain situation that struck right at the heart of the talk host's current experience with his elderly grandmother who resided in a nursing home.
And Madrid said that he knew immediately that God was using that other gentleman to speak to him. The man had not looked at the host of one of Catholic radio's morning programs, had not seemed to be talking to him specifically at all. Nevertheless, Madrid was absolutely convinced, because of the on-point comment, that God had used the conversation to speak directly to him about his choices.
Alone in the car I nodded my head and said aloud, "Yes, He was."
Of course, because of his conviction about the message, Madrid began visiting his grandmother much more often as soon as he got home from the conference.
My husband and I had a similar situation. His grandmother used to live close to us. At the time we had babies and little ones, and the drive - thirty minutes or so - seemed often to be too long, especially with a baby possibly wailing in her car seat. Even when Grandma called sometimes, I did not give her the time I should have. I was in a rush to know what she wanted to tell me. My life seemed so full of people who needed me and a house that demanded my attention.
We were young and foolish.
Now? I regret that we didn't drive out more often to spend time with Grandma, that I didn't sit and listen to more of her family stories and look over the photo albums one more time or ask more about her own upbringing and youth. At her funeral I held my two-month-old youngest daughter and cried uncontrollably. Grandma had waited for the birth of that newest member of her family, we felt, before succumbing to her illness. We had taken Ella to see her in hospice.
A friend of Grandma's came up to me at the funeral and asked how far we lived away. I think I made it sound farther than I should have, for the woman said very pointedly, "It wasn't that far at all, was it?"
Perhaps Grandma had confided in her that her grandson's family didn't often come to visit. Perhaps God was telling me something about managing time wisely with those we love before the time is up (and exactly when we never can know). I don't know. At the time, the friend's words felt like a barb, and maybe they were supposed to be.
I do know there have been many times in my life when I felt wholeheartedly that God was using another of his children to speak to me. I talk about some of those times HERE and HERE. There was even a time when I felt He spoke directly to my heart.
Gratitude is the primary thing I feel when I recall how He used others to guide, uplift, energize or admonish me. He's talking to me. He cares. He speaks. I need only acknowledge that I hear and understand, so that I can go in the direction He is guiding me with great confidence.
As a priest called Father Davern once told our parish, a lot of what we learn about God, we learn from each other.
We never know from whom the message might come. Will we listen to, recognize and accept it?
By God's grace, may we always.