by Ken Rolheiser

Love while the dust is falling

A third-grader named Tommy had behavior problems in school because his parents had recently separated. The teacher contrived to have both parents attend an interview, each not knowing the other was going to be there. The situation was a little icy.

Silently the teacher took a piece of paper she had found crumpled in Tommy’s desk and handed it to the mother. After she read it, she handed it to her husband without a word. His frown softened as he read. He studied it for what seemed an eternity. Then he folded it carefully, placed it in his pocket, and reached for his wife’s outstretched hand. She wiped her eyes and smiled. They left together.

The words on the sheet of yellow paper simply said: “Dear Mother…Dear Daddy…I love you…I love you…I love you” (from “Tommy’s Essay”, Jane Lindstrom, A 3rd Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul).

“As tenderly as a father treats his children,
so Yahweh treats those who fear [revere] him;
he knows what we are made of,
he remembers we are dust” (Psalms 103:13-14)

Psalm 103 continues: “As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, And its place acknowledges it no longer.”

What can we do? What can you and I accomplish while the dust is falling?

I was going to write a song “While the dust is falling” –
Time is passing,
So kiss me
Love me
While the dust is falling.

Young and in love
Creating the beautiful

But we are so preoccupied. In adolescence we worry about pimples and long noses. Or chins.
Natural imperfections are natural perfections!

In maturity we worry about mortgages and jobs.
Our struggles are God’s blessings!
And the dust keeps falling

The Nigerians have a song the children sing in school:
“Tick goes the clock. Tick tick. What you must do, do quick.”

“Attentive waiting and patience are two characteristics of those who have found Jesus in the here and now,” said Pope Francis. We must be attentive to those around us. And love! Love requires patience.

A Christian, certain in his faith that one day Our Lord will come again in triumph, should welcome each day of life with “gratitude and wonder,” Pope Francis said at a general audience October 11, 2017. He described hope as “attentive waiting.”

Love is what we need. “Nothing happens in vain,” he assured us, “and no situation in which a Christian finds himself is completely unresponsive to love. No night is so long that it makes us forget the joy of the dawn. And the darker the night is, the closer the dawn.”

Whatever our situation in life, and life has its challenges, if we are sure of our faith in Jesus and know how tenderly our Father holds us, we can love others. We can bless them with our presence.

“…even if the entire world were to preach against hope,” Pope Francis said; “if it were to say that the future will only bring dark clouds, the Christian knows that, in that same future, there is Christ’s return.”

The wind blows and all is dust.
We go on creating the beautiful,
the original, while all around us
Dust is falling.

But we are so much more than dust in the wind.

(565 words)