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Starting Point

All the hours of my life


I have never witnessed an instant cure or a sudden transformation. I’ve never been to Lourdes or Medjugorje. I’ve never seen a statue move or an icon weep. The Holy Shroud of Turin is no consolation to me. Neither sea nor sky has ever parted so I could get across.

I’ve eaten over 50,000 meals. I’ve slept through 19,000 nights. I know the havoc addiction can cause. I have frightened those closest to me with my anger. I have known the pleasures and responsibilities of friendship. I’ve lived in community. I’ve fallen in love. I have witnessed the birth of five children. I have kept watch with the dying. I have wept.

I have mowed lawns, tended gardens, bagged groceries, trimmed trees, moved furniture, sold nuts and bolts, painted houses, cleaned locker rooms, tutored teenagers, worked in parishes, served on committees and made repairs. I have taken delight in music and poetry. I have studied hard, wasted a lot of time, have been a big disappointment and have risen to the occasion.

Through all the hours of my life, God is the one who is always present -- the witness, the creator of all that is good, the one who sets life and death before me, companion, beggar, stranger, fire, light and shadow, breath, fragrance, hunger, salt, the cup of cold water -- slaking my thirst or in my face like a slap, the common and uncommon bread, the hidden singer, the cry and whisper, the silence, rain, desire, dread, the Christ, abiding mercy.

The poet Karl Shapiro addresses our “immigrant God”: “You follow me,” he says. “You go with me; you are a distant tree; you are the beast that lows in my heart’s gates; you are a dog that follows at my heels; you are the table on which I lean; you are the plate from which I eat.”

“Lord, when did we see you and fail to respond to you?”

Answer: Pay attention!

In the Eucharist, under the humble appearance of ordinary bread and wine, the Lord of creation is presented to us as food and drink, uniting us with God and one another, making us one body. The Eucharist constantly reminds us that in the humble circumstances of daily life -- in marriage and family living, work, leisure, community life -- God is present. Take heed. Live in gratitude and wonder.

Chris Loetscher is director of the Office of Social Concerns and Family Life for the diocese of New Ulm, Minn.

National Catholic Reporter, February 7, 2003