When I wrote my first column in this space (I was assigned to the editor’s desk nearly a year ago), I was frank about the fact that I have more questions than answers when it comes to my faith. I am a confirmed and committed Catholic, but, possibly like many of you, there are times when I question aspects of the mystery of faith. A number of OC Catholic stories have resulted from my need to find answers to my many questions. You can find online at occatholic.com a list of stories including: “Heaven help us,” which explores if heaven is real; and “The benefit of the doubt,” which tackles why doubt is a good thing and actually draws us closer to God. (I found comfort in that one.)
Having shared this background with you I share now a personal moment I had last weekend. I woke up on Sunday morning feeling compelled to visit my father’s gravesite. Since his passing two years ago I’ve visited the cemetery many times, but always with family. I wanted to go by myself this time to just sit and contemplate. I packed my chair, umbrella, water bottle, rosary and a few small things I wanted to leave at his gravesite – things that he’d remember, such as a sprig of mint leaves from our herb garden (he used to tuck a mint leaf behind his ear as his own father used to do – not sure why – some kind of Italian thing, I think). I also included a leaf from our fig tree that is now boasting new foliage as spring dawns. The tree was grafted from my paternal grandfather’s fig tree, planted in the front yard of my grandparents’ home.
I arrived at my father’s gravesite, set up my little camp, sat down…. and then cried like a baby for what seemed like an hour. I miss him terribly. And then the questions started to bubble up between my tears. Where is he now? Will I ever see him again? Is it all true – the promise of everlasting life? And I wondered: how can I still be asking these questions? I say the creed every week at Mass, professing that I believe in the resurrection and life everlasting. I do. But…
It would be so much easier if there was proof, tangible proof, for us humans that we’ll be stepping into eternity if we’ve lived a life deserving of it. I suppose that would just be too easy. If I could make sense of it, would I live my life any differently?
Then I started to think about the greatest gifts of this life–marriage and children. When you commit your life to your spouse during a marriage ceremony, you have no certainty of what’s ahead. Will you live in bliss or endure a rocky relationship? For some, it will end in divorce. When you discover you’re blessed to be expecting a child, you have no idea what the future will bring. Will your baby be healthy? Will your child grow to become a loving and compassionate adult? No one knows, but we plunge ahead with hope.
Each year Easter reminds us that we ARE promised everlasting life. And that promise comes from God himself. If there is anywhere to place one’s faith, it should be here. As we await the arrival of Easter and the story of the resurrection repeated at Mass, I hope you find solace, comfort, hope…and faith.