By Barb Arland-Fye
Even in the rain, my husband Steve’s face glowed as he walked back from the house where he had given Communion to the woman who lived there. My sons and I were waiting in the car for Steve on Saturday night after Mass. The stop at Katherine’s house has become a tradition before we go home to enjoy dinner together.
But last Saturday night’s visit impacted me. Steve thrives on helping others, and I could see the light of Christ in his eyes at that moment. The awareness struck as I contemplated the past couple of days. Just hours after driving me home from Rochester, Minn., following my second round of chemotherapy, Steve was out the door to pick up our son Colin for a daylong retreat for adults with special needs. They had a wonderful time during the retreat at Our Lady of Victory Parish in Davenport and sent photos of Bishop Thomas Zinkula interacting with participants, including Colin.
Steve buries whatever burden he might be feeling concerning my cancer treatment; job one, in his mind, is to ease the burden for me. Many others have come to count on Steve to help ease life’s burdens, and he seems energized by each opportunity.
Following daily Mass at our parish, Steve brings Communion to a couple who live near our home and with whom we have developed a special relationship. John and Katie couldn’t be more grateful. Steve feels especially blessed to share the Eucharist with them, and to spend a few extra minutes learning how they are doing. Occasionally, he brings a homemade dish to their home, and returns with empty containers and compliments for his cooking.
The other night, a member of the Altar & Rosary Society called, asking if Steve could prepare a big salad for a funeral luncheon this week. Of course, he would! Cooking and baking are among his favorite activities and he will make time to prepare whatever the church or anyone else needs.
Steve made several desserts for the parish’s Ash Wednesday Fish Fry and spent the day helping to make the meal with other members of the Knights of Columbus and cleaning up afterwards. He allowed himself one complaint the following day: “My feet are sore!”
He does instinctually what Jesus instructs all of us to do in Matthew 25: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me … ill and you cared for me.”
Bishop Robert Barron’s Gospel reflection for Feb. 26, which Steve and I read after Morning Prayer, articulated for me the gift that Steve so willingly accepts, and shares. Bishop Barron says that “God’s life is had, as it were, on the fly: when you receive it as a gift, you must give it away, since it only exists in gift form, and then you will find more of it flooding into your heart.”
My husband jokes often that he’ll be clinging to my hand to reach heaven. I see it differently; I have much to learn from the example he sets here on earth.
(Editor Barb Arland-Fye can be reached at email@example.com.)