Winter in the Midwest was brutally cold this year, with record snows and ice. The temperature was below zero with six inches of snow just a week earlier. It was a relief when I could walk around the neighborhood. Usually, nature first comes alive when the trees and flowers blossom in early spring. Today I saw another kind of life being born, one that springs from the heart of every person.
As I began my walk down the road, four teenage boys passed me on the other side. They smiled and laughed, reminiscent of years ago, when my friends and I walked around our neighborhood. As I rounded the corner, a woman in a car looked out the window and with a big smile, waved to me, as she enjoyed the bright sun-filled day after a long winter. Next, I saw two small girls wearing bright Easter-like long dresses. They joyfully smiled and romped on their porch. As I walked past, they saw my straw cowboy hat and yelled out, “Hi, cowboy.” Immediately, they went in the front door, and told their mother that a cowboy was walking down the street. Finally, as I returned home, two teenage girls laughed and smiled as they walked up to the corner.
I didn’t know these people, but sensed that an inner spirit was released in them which told me that life is good and we are God’s precious treasures. I sensed in them the spirit of the all-good God who dwells in us. In spite of our sorrow and stress, the Holy Spirit invites us to express our gratitude to God. Let us give thanks for who we are by opening our hearts to see the beauty around us.
A priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and a Professor of Pastoral and Systematic Theology at the Athenaeum of Ohio, Father Bob Hater is also Professor Emeritus at the University of Dayton. Order Fr. Hater’s new book, Common Sense Catechesis: Lessons from the Past, Road Map for the Future.