My Great-Aunt Clara, who was born in 1887, experienced dementia in her 90’s. I vividly recall a summer day when we picked her up at the nursing home in town to take her for a visit to our farm. We were driving on the highway (I promise I was observing the 55-mile-an-hour speed limit) when she got very upset and started yelling, “Slow the horses down.” She was genuinely frightened, if a bit unaware of her surroundings. But then something quite wonderful happened. She started praying, “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, save us. Protect us.”
At the time, we thought it was quite funny, and in telling the story we tended to focus on the horse/car confusion. But later, we realized what a beautiful witness she was to her faith. She had lost much of her connection to reality, but what was rock-solid was her relationship with God. Who could ask for more?
I wonder if, in today’s secular world, we do enough God-Talk. We are afraid to say “God bless you” when someone sneezes for fear of offending someone who doesn’t believe. We don’t talk to God out loud in front of other people because we see that as too personal. But what if....?
- What if, when the name of Jesus comes into our conversation, it’s in a prayer rather than an expletive?
- What if, instead of telling someone we will pray to St. Anthony if they’ve lost something or St. Jude if they’ve almost given up, we pause and pray on the spot—out loud?
- What if we responded with “God is so good to me!” whenever someone complimented us on a job well-done or a particular talent we have?
- What if we talked about how we can’t make it through the day without the Spirit’s guidance in our lives?
- What if we, like Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, stopped in the middle of work and prayed?
- And what if we modeled this for the young generations so they grow up with God-Talk being a natural part of their conversations. I think it could make a huge difference!
A beautiful woman in Washington, DC, whom I had the privilege of meeting and then working with on Young Neighbors in Action, would often share during our week of mission and service, “God told me, Pat Waddell, you should do this.” Or “God said, Pat Waddell, don’t worry about that.” God always addressed Pat by her first and her last name, which I thought was so precious!
I want to be more like Pat. When God speaks to me by first or last name or both, I want to share that with those around me without feeling self-conscious or worried that I will be seen as an oddity. (That train has already left the station anyway!) I want to acknowledge how good God has been to me when someone thanks me or compliments me. I want to share that God loves me with anyone who is interested.
How is the God-Talk in your life? Is it more than the OMG when texting or tweeting? Let’s make a commitment to bringing more God-Talk into our everyday lives—not just in the parish or Catholic school, but wherever we find ourselves.
Oh, and by the way, God bless you with a beautiful day today!