Spring Snow

“April is the cruelest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain.

Winter kept us warm, covering

Earth in forgetful snow, feeding

A little life with dried tubers.”  ‘The Waste Land’, T.S. Eliot

The apple tree in our backyard remains dormant, and no buds swell. Grass, appearing and starting to green this week after months of winter covering, has resettled under new fallen snow this first morning of spring. A gentle snow fell with a higher sun backlighting a gray sky different from a winter sky, not the windblown dark storms of January. A pair of small woodpeckers came back to our suet log in the Rose of Sharon north of the kitchen sink window. We put out seed again for the chickadees, two mourning doves, red winged blackbirds and other over wintering birds that frequent the cedars and sugar maple. The swings out in back, re-hung on a warm day last week, are white coated and still. Spring snow portends of our mortality.

“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.”  John 12:24

While running Saturday errands, at one of our stops, a thirty something woman approached us with two children, one in a front baby carrier and an obviously blind nine year old girl, Adrianne. Her Mom was petitioning with a colorful paper decorated can to help defray expenses while the family recovered from the loss of her husband’s employment. They had moved from Vermont for cancer treatment for Adrianne last summer. The radiation for her brain tumor arrested the growth of the tumor, but damaged Adrianne’s optic nerve. The father had taken the other four children to the nearby Dunkin Donuts to warm up.  The family was surviving with the support of the local St.  Lucy’s Parish pastor, Father John O’Brien, and the generosity of a local motel, which was putting them up with a deep discount during the winter off season.  They are on a list and hope to have a local rental apartment soon.

Rita spoke to her, helped a little, and we drove to the next stop on the Saturday list. First feeling overwhelmed with this family’s loss, we discussed it in the car and went back. I spoke to her some more; she was remarkably cheerful and friendly given her plight. Her husband had given up a good job with housing in Vermont as a caretaker, so they could tend to Adrianne. As yet he has been unable to find employment, although he is not without skills with experience in carpentry and masonry. They had run off together when she was sixteen, the same age her oldest son is now. Her home life as a child had been difficult, her parents divorced, estranged and unable to help. She told me how blessed she and her husband were to remain in love, together with their beautiful kids. Intelligent and with a lively face, she relayed this remarkable journey in five minutes in front of BJ’s Wholesale Market to total strangers. I sensed no self-pity, no resignation, and no resentment, only hope with immense love for her family and for her faith.

We helped a little more, and I gave her my business card to give to her husband. I hope he calls.  I hope I will be able to help to find a job for him.

What folly and unhappiness in our petty complaints, grudges and in our lack of gratitude for the everyday blessings of our lives. What joy and peace in perseverance, patience, forgiveness and a thankful heart.

“My life is but an instant, an hour which passes by. My life is a moment which I have no power to stay.  You know, oh my God, that to love you here on earth – I have only today.” St. Therese of Lisieux

 

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4 Comments

Filed under Background Perspective, Personal and family life

4 responses to “Spring Snow

  1. Betty Lou Fuller

    I will get this information to our St. Vincent de Paul committee at church Jack and see if there is anything they can do to help.

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  2. Rita

    The new babies arrival has been filled with joy and relief. You don’t realize how much added stress there is with the waiting… Even the kids were a handful. As soon as we could tell Gianna and Ellie the next morning, they were so happy! Ellie asked me if the baby was outside of Mommy? When I told her she was she immediately drew a picture of her mother hold the baby in her arms. Soooo cute.

    As for Adrian, the little girl who became blind while under surgical treatment for brain cancer, it still chokes me up when I think about her. I promised I would pray for her and I do lift her up often during the day. My petty little complaints are also lifted up to God on her behalf. We are looking for ways to lend a hand as a community and members of St. Lucy’s Church. (Jack and I go there on occasion when we can’t make it to Providence.) The beautifully positive and grateful family who rejoices in that fact that Adrian is still with them is also very inspirational. The child is in good hands… Please pray for the family if you feel called.

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  3. Greg Parquette

    Jack,
    A very touching story, we will keep Adrianne in our prayers, I have no complaints compared to their plight.

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  4. Matthew Cuddeback

    Jack,

    I really enjoyed this post, as well as your March 8 post about the “mysteries of the planet.” May I draw a connection between the March 8 post and the current one?

    In the March 8 post I was struck by the quote from Aldo Leopold: “gadgets and middlemen” have come between us and the earth. I teach a course on Environmental Philosophy at PC, and I have been asking myself: why is it important for us to maintain what Leopold calls “this elemental man-earth relationship”?

    There are some good answers, but I think the most important one is: through a man-earth relationship in which we stay wakeful, we learn that the earth (which we did not and could not make) is a gift to us from its Maker. And if it is a gift to us it calls for gratitude to the Giver.

    How to show the gratitude? The same way a young person should show gratitude to his father and mother when they give him his own dog: in gratitude for their trust, he cares for the dog as a dog should be cared for. Then he looks back at the folks appreciatively and says: “See how well I’m taking care of what you gave me? Thanks for the dog and for your trust!”

    So must we gratefully care for the earth, and turn back to the Maker and Giver in gratitude.

    I appreciate your citation of Pope Francis in the March 8 blog. I’ll add another. In his homily on the day he was installed as pope (link is below), we find him saying what I take to be at the heart of environmental ecology: “Be protectors of God’s gifts!” The earth, all of creation, is a great gift we must protect and hand on to future generations.

    But as John Paul II said: “man too is God’s gift to man”—and a much greater gift to us than even the earth. We must (even more so!) be protectors of that gift, the gift of man: in the unborn, the elderly, those with special needs, the poor, the vulnerable, the lost, the hopeless. And the newly born, such as your granddaughter Josephine and her family!

    In the current post you begin with your care for the backyard chickadees, and move gracefully to this lovely couple’s heroic effort to care for their ailing daughter, as well as your own effort to care for that vulnerable family. I suggest that the connection between the blogs is found in those words of Pope Francis: “Be protectors of God’s gifts!” The chickadees, yes. But especially one’s wife or husband, son or daughter, brother or sister. One’s ailing daughter (even to heroic sacrifice—what a witness!). One’s neighbor in the human family.

    Thanks again for your post!

    **Here is the link to Pope Francis’s homily that I cite:
    http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/homilies/2013/documents/papa-francesco_20130319_omelia-inizio-pontificato.html

    **In appreciation of the birth of Josephine, your readers might also enjoy this December 2014 address of Pope Francis on large families:
    http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2014/december/documents/papa-francesco_20141228_famiglie-numerose.html

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