Wednesday, June 21, 2017

On Thunderstorms and Missing Dad

Written by  Fr. David Tumback

One of the last and most powerful things said to me by my Dad before he died was "never grow tired of being thankful." I tend to believe that I have, for the most part, always been a relatively thankful person. Many of my parishioners can quote my famous line: "the greatest sin of the first world is the sin of ingratitude." My health experience in the last few months has shown me even more the importance of the gift of gratitude. Having a heart issue and not responding real well on the hospital table has given me much reason to reflect. You see, I wasn't scared of dying. My mind, my heart, my whole being was okay with the reality of going to be with God. What I struggled with was that I had not thanked the people in my life for everything they had done for me. One of my favourite penances in the confessional is to call to mind the blessings God has given and to thank God in a special prayer. Since returning to full time work, I've made it an even more important mission to promote a message of gratitude. No gas pump jockey, no teller, no cashier and no teacher goes without a word of thanks from me. Transforming the world and changing the attitudes of people begins with a spirit of gratitude on our part. Dialogue, communication and appreciation are key to a sustainable world peace.

The recent situations of my life have also compelled me to reflect upon and find joy in the little things of life, little things that are too often taken for granted. I am still waiting to hear the sound of a meadowlark this spring. How I loved the spring days in Macklin driving down the road to Denzil with the windows open and that shrill, yet beautiful sound of the meadowlark piercing the skies. To me, the meadowlark is like the voice of God - a reassuring presence in the face of change. Then there's the robins that congregate on the fence and dive bomb the dog even though their nests are far away. Their informal game of "tag" always ends up with the birds winning and a so-called smart dog that doesn't realize she will never win this game. There's sunrises and sunsets, some of the most beautiful in all the world with colours filling the horizon, leading our minds to imagine that if the world is this beautiful how much more beautiful will Heaven be?

Then, of course, there is the sound of thunderstorms and the smell in the air when the first spring rains water the earth and that beautiful smell of prairie on a quiet evening. It was for this reason that last week I thrust open the window in my bedroom as far as it would go and breathed in as far as I could. As I lay there, I thought of my Dad - wondering what he would be smelling on a spring day in Heaven. And I was missing him. Missing him to the point that it almost felt painful. It wasn't even that I was wishing to talk to him. It was more just a desire to know he was present like he was in his chair at the kitchen table playing solitaire or looking at the birds in the back yard. I just wanted to see him smile again or to wink his eye; something to know that he was okay and that all would be well.

Almost as if orchestrated, I breathed in deeply and smelled the most prolific, most memorable smell from the days on the farm... the lingering smell of the spray of a skunk. And I laughed. I was missing Dad and wishing him present and here he was, winning this round of "pull my finger," and being very present. I was grateful. Grateful for Dad, and for thunderstorms, for robins and meadowlarks, for wet kisses from the dog and, on that particular evening, the re-assuring smell of a skunk. God is great.



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