Every once in a while, you meet someone whose story has an extraordinary and immediate impact. I had the pleasure of such an experience when I met Bob Kleiber at a parish leadership gathering this spring. Bob is a member of The Basilica’s Finance Committee whose path to involvement and deeper stewardship is not typical.
In our visit, Bob openly shared the tragic story of losing his son, David, to suicide, as a result of mental illness. When he told me this story, something hit me in the gut and tore at my heart. As a parent, the thought of a broken bone is enough to make your stomach churn. The thought of burying a child is unfathomable. But through that loss and beyond his sadness, Bob found a deeper connection at The Basilica and with his faith. The value of community and of belonging increases greatly when you feel their support in a time of need.
As he shared today, and as you can likely sense, even through his grief Bob lives a life of gratitude. This gratitude has guided stewardship in his life.
He is an inspiration.
Sometimes, we all need a reminder about living a life of gratitude. Earlier this year, around the time I met Bob, I had a conversation with Fr. Michael O’Connell, former pastor at The Basilica. I had shared with him some of my challenges about how I was finding it to be difficult to juggle things. These “things” were family, children’s activities, my work, and other interests. It seemed I never had the time I really wanted to devote to each area of my life, which is a well-known theme for many working parents.
When I started this conversation, I was counting on a clear direction of how I might make some adjustments and priorities could become clear. That didn’t happen.
Instead, I heard the one word that needed to be said: Gratitude.
I didn’t love to hear it at first. Amidst my tension and personal stress, I had forgotten to look at these “things” in my life as the blessings of my life. And they are. God has given me more than I recognize and certainly more than I sometimes deserve.
I love all of it. Perhaps too much. I have a job that not only feeds my family, but feeds my heart and soul. I have a loving family. I have a faith that is constantly forming, on a journey where I’m supported at The Basilica.
Focusing on gratitude—and in Fr. Michael’s words, “Giving gratefully and graciously gives back what God has so generously given to us”—can change you.
The shift changed not only my heart, but it seemed to change my daily life. When you change your mind, the tone of each day is different.
I hope you will consider your own gratitude when you consider supporting The Basilica this fall. Please consider a pledged commitment for 2015. Pledge forms are available in the pews, or you can pledge online. Thank you for your consideration and know we are grateful for your generosity.