This year I’m a little behind. I didn’t take my Christmas cards down until Ash Wednesday, and I didn’t take my Easter cards down until last week. All of them—about 400 cards—are held in a large box, awaiting a final reading, which I began yesterday. I thought I would look all of them over quickly in one sitting, consign them to recycling, and move on with my life. But these cards require a little more time—a lot more time, actually.
Each card is a treasure, to be reflected upon and savored for some moments. Each card bestows a particular love from a particular soul. God have given me to know so many people over 30 years and seven priestly assignments. Dear priest friends, parents and those elderly who become a priest’s spiritual parents in every parish, parish and school staff members, beloved lay friends from every parish, religious sisters and brothers, bishops past and present, and even some names I cannot place but who express love and gratitude for services rendered in the past.
When we are tempted to feel useless and to think our lives meaningless, when we are tempted to give into sadness at the world’s rejection and the loss of particular friendships: when we fear we have no place or purpose in life, we must think on how many people God has in fact given to us, who love and understand us. Some of us receive 300 Christmas cards, some of us receive three, and some three thousand. But everyone has some friends, some people whom the good God has given them as kindred souls and fellow pilgrims. I have to remember, and to recalibrate, every day: I will give thanks for what I have been given and refuse to complain about what I have not been given.