By Barb Arland-Fye
Our sons live in their own homes now but dinner with Mom and Dad on Sunday nights at the Fye homestead is a family tradition we treasure.
As a journalist working for the Catholic Church, I miss an occasional Sunday night dinner to cover a special event somewhere in the Davenport Diocese. Our small staff rotates these assignments, which benefits the team and our families. Lately, the events have increased because of a busy fall and Archbishop-elect Thomas Zinkula’s impending departure from the Davenport Diocese. On Oct. 18, he will be installed as Archbishop of the Dubuque Archdiocese. Everyone wants to send him off with a celebration!
Another event, unrelated to the archbishop-elect’s move, beckoned me last Sunday night. Should I accept the invitation? The tug of family commitment and an interesting assignment pulled at me from both sides. I consulted my supportive husband, Steve, but he left the decision to me.
Pope Francis says in his apostolic exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia” (“On Love in the Family”), “The spirituality of family love is made up of thousands of small but real gestures. In that variety of gifts and encounters, which deepen communion, God has his dwelling place. This mutual concern ‘brings together the human and the divine,’ for it is filled with the love of God” (No. 315).
Choosing to forego an event to spend time with my family seemed to be one small but real gesture of the spirituality of family love. I emailed my regrets to a leader of the organization hosting the event and promised to follow up with a story afterwards.
On Sunday, I bundled up in winter wear to join our family at “Sled Hockey,” an activity that brings great joy to my older son Colin, who has autism. I dread the cold temperature in the hockey arena but that is a small price to pay to show Colin that I care. My younger son Patrick and I sat in the stands to watch while Steve, the Sled Hockey equipment manager, worked on sleds.
We easily kept track of Colin on the ice because he was wearing bright red warm-up pants with his black and yellow jersey. I have never seen anyone wearing red pants while playing sled hockey. Patrick and I waved at Colin from the stands and shouted out encouragement to him to chase the puck with his sled and hockey sticks, which propel him on the ice.
After the game and as we drove home, Colin expressed his appreciation that the “Four Fyes” were together. He thanked me for coming to the sled hockey game, which Steve never misses. Patrick also shows up for most of the games. Colin wondered whether I would continue to attend his sled hockey games. Honoring that request shouldn’t seem so challenging, if family time truly is important to me.
Later, at dinner, as we finished saying grace, Colin offered a prayer of thanksgiving for our family being together for the game and dinner. His small gesture is one of many he makes routinely that contribute to the spirituality of family love. I am grateful, and will strive to add to my own gestures of family love.
(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at firstname.lastname@example.org)