Treasures in Heaven (first published by “Colorado Catholic Herald”)

No one could have prepared me for the deep valley of despair I would fall into after our infant daughter, Cara, passed away in 1991.  Holding her in my arms and rocking her lifeless body back and forth was more than I could bear.  Cara had been born with a rare brain anomaly known as holoprosencephaly.  We were told by the doctors that she was going to die; and yet, despite knowing of her likely passing, I still threw my head back and began to plead with God to revive her.

Saying farewell to an infant seemed somehow more tragic than saying good-bye to an aging parent or grandparent at a nearby nursing home-so much  life unlived; so much human potential unrealized.  Cara had her whole life ahead of her, but was only able to live a small fraction of it.  Her short life and subsequent death proved to be a wake up call to me.

I began to contemplate the temporary nature of life here on earth when compared to eternity with God. I thought about a daughter who now would be living in a totally Theo-centric environment-angels would be her constant companions; cherubim and seraphim would be her guides.  Her concerns would be spiritual rather than worldly.

It even began to dawn on me that one day I would be joining her world-a spiritual reality vastly different from the one she had left behind.  To relate to a daughter literally raised in the presence of God meant that my priorities would have to change.  Her treasures would be different from the things I had come to embrace in this temporal world of the living.

I wondered: “Will we have anything in common?”  She would no doubt marvel that I had placed so much importance on things.  She wouldn’t grasp the significance of any human accomplishment, apart from my bringing others to Christ or exhibiting His fruit in my life (see Galatians 5)-academic degrees… awards… even writing books would be insignificant in her world where worshipping God, in spirit and in truth, is the ultimate achievement for those now saved by grace.

Oh, Cara, will teach me much!  Her spiritual sensibilities will render mine ordinary or even obsolete by comparison.  What I have faith in she will know as fact; what I hope for, she will have already achieved.

But love will be the common denominator between us!  What she loves can be what I love, if I make a conscious decision to put people ahead of possessions.  Her treasures can become my treasures; her experiences mine, if I put on love-God’s love that “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (see 1 Corinthians 13:7).  It’s what makes life here on earth meaningful and full of great purpose.

To love our families as we have been loved by God becomes our sole, legitimate ambition-a source of true contentment and ultimate fulfillment for the restless heart.  It’s how we live, so we don’t have to look back on our lives and say: “Oh, how I’ve wasted my life.”

With Cara’s death and the prospect of my own mortality close at hand came the desire to live life differently.  I wanted fewer regrets at the end of my life.  I wanted fulfillment and a restful heart.  I wanted contentment.  I wanted effects that last-well into eternity.  Yet I soon learned it would take more than saying good-bye to my daughter; it would require me saying good-bye to my lifelong search for having it all!

As Dorothy, in the MGM movie, “Wizard of Oz”, wisely concludes: “If it isn’t in my own backyard, I haven’t really lost it to begin with.”  And so, today, make your family matter; accept that it holds the true key which unlocks the door to your utmost happiness.

You see, our modern life-style has created an epidemic of restlessness; a desperate search for meaning that I have dubbed, “The Oz Syndrome”-whereby, we wander over the rainbow and down the yellow brick road in an anxious quest for the “wizard” who we think can ease our restless hearts.  But as Dorothy finally learns that “there’s no place like home” you, too, can do the right thing by making your family your number one priority; and, thus, have “treasures in heaven where neither the moth… can corrupt… nor the thief break in and steal” (see Matthew 6:20).

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~ by revdrmichael on July 17, 2010.

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