Letter from Clara Meier
I have crossed into a decade of living some would call “old age”. I turned 61 on my last birthday. And what have I learned? Every single person living today is getting older by the second! I am not as old as my 100-year-old mother. I am older than my nearly thirty-year-old daughter. And much older than my two-year-old granddaughter.
I’ve also learned that God is good! I can’t say that I have had a smooth journey. But I can say that God has been with me every step of the way. There are experiences in my life I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Yet, those experiences have become the fiber of who I am, helping me move past the trauma that came with being young and inexperienced, and toward the faith and certainty that I grew because of those experiences. Now I live to share my experience. And I hope my experience will give strength to others, as it has given strength and faith to me.
I was raised as a Catholic. I don’t think I have ever missed Sunday Mass. And I have never purposefully missed a Holy Day. But I can state that I am a “practicing” Catholic for a reason. I only want to get better at it! I could briefly summarize the hurdles I have stumbled over. After divorce, and single parenting, and medical issues, I am still faithful. I have had doubts. I have faltered. But the Holy Spirit has always reached out to catch me and carry me to the top of the mountain.
After my divorce, I told myself that going to church was for the kids, because my heart certainly didn’t feel like it was worthy of God’s love, or anyone else’s, for that matter. How blessed I was to find a parish with a priest who seemed to deliver a homily just for my place in life each and every Sunday. And who encouraged families to join the big family of our parish! We had family nights, and summer camping, and parish festivals.
I had never attended church activities alone before this period of my life. Growing up, church activities were for couples. Or groups of married women. Or classmates. Or friends from the dorm.
Parish members who came to church events alone were old and widowed. I didn’t fit that description. But, with this new parish, I had the courage to attend all those activities. Our priest actively encouraged everyone to attend, and to welcome everyone, as one big parish family. The activities we attended were fun, and they always involved some element of prayer and faith building.
One Labor Day weekend, the kids and I joined the rest of a parish group in the mountains for a weekend long campout. We were all ages, married, single, with children and grandchildren. The afternoon event was beeper ball. (This is the baseball game that allows blind people to play!) What an icebreaker, and our group became a close knit family after that. When I saw the campout attendees at Mass and parish events after that, it was like a family reunion!
Particularly moving were Family Nights at my parish, where the entire parish was in a learning mode. The parents and kids were split up into different classes.The kids gathered in traditional classes by grade level, and all the adults gathered in the church basement for adult education. Followed by a structured lesson, there was a question box. Father drew out questions submitted and answered them, in a way that I have never had questions answered before. The questions were about current issues, including divorce, contraception, and politics. The answers were based on what was going on in the world today. They were not an alteration of church doctrine, instead they were answers to help us see the good, or bad, in a current practice. The answers Father gave never singled out anyone as a sinner, and were sound and practical.He provided us new ways to defend our faith, and new understanding on how the tenets of our faith were designed to show how much God loves us. At those Family Nights, I finally realized that God loves even divorced people.
The walls that were protecting my heart came down, and I grew to feel that I was building my own faith, as well as my own friendships. Though we are told that God loves us, it is easier to feel that when we know and love the person we stand next to, in Mass or any church activity. As my relationships blossomed within that parish, my faith grew. I had friends to discuss faith issues with, and to share common beliefs.
And I made it to that mountain top. I took to that mountain top a deeper understanding of how much God loves me! I was not unscathed, but I was so much stronger than I had been before! Wow….if I could climb that mountain, I could do anything!
What I have learned is that there will always be more mountains. And the Holy Spirit is always there to bring me to the next mountain top. The view is great once I arrive. But I know each mountain top is only a resting place. A place to realize how strong I have become, and how blessed I am. Each mountaintop allows me to reflect on my prayer habits, my life style, my knowledge of our beautiful faith. And then I know I need to be ready for the next mountain climb.
Sisters, my goal is to find peace. I believe that is the strong message of the Bible. When I find peace, then love and joy follow. I am allowed to pause at the top of the mountain and revel in peace and joy and love. Then the calling comes to move on down the mountain, so I can climb the next one. Each new journey becomes easier, knowing that I have made it to so many mountaintops already. And I know that one day, there will be a final mountaintop.
I don’t have any way of knowing when I will reach my final mountaintop. When one watches her own Mother cross into a second century of living, it really stretches the imagination! But I remind myself that God will take me home when he is ready for me to go.
I have grown from weekly Mass to daily prayer, journaling, and witnessing. I know I am not perfect. But that is why I am still practicing. Practicing my faith so I can start my next climb. So I can share my stories with those who are placed along the way. So I can listen to the stories of those who are placed along the way. I know I will have companions on the journey. Some will join with me. Some will be a stop along the way. Others will rejoin me on another mountaintop. And there will always be those who really just wave as I pass by.
On God’s Journey!
About the Writer: Clara Meier
After 23 years in Colorado, Clara has relocated to Indiana, to be on hand for the adventures of grandmother-ing! Spare times pursuits are quilting and learning about her new world in the upper Midwest. Every journey includes “steeples and stitches”, as she looks for old churches and any type of quilt shop to visit along the road. Inestimable is her favorite word, and she has learned to appreciate inestimable gifts, including mountaintop experiences and every step along the way.