There are times when it is hard to decide what to write for these reflections. Because of the ministry I do, I get a chance to meet many people as well as their families. The Spirit is urging me to write about the wonderful families I met this past Sunday at Christine Nguyen’s graduation from Ripon College in Wisconsin.
Chrissy is from Philadelphia (that is where I met her) and I was delighted to be invited to her graduation and meet her family. Because of the distance, family visits were rare. But, Chrissy still had a family life in Wisconsin. Her friend Sara and Sara’s family, Wisconsin natives, treated Chrissy like a daughter. Chrissy introduced her Wisconsin family to me on a previous visit. It was a delight to be with them. When Chrissy said we were going to dinner with her “family,” I had NO idea what that meant. Her family included her mom, dad and brother, Sara’s family and two of her favorite professors. It was a full table. There was so much pride, joy and gratitude shared during our dinner – clanking glasses, laughter, stories and a family with a thankful heart. The Nguyen family was so appreciative of all of us around the table as each of us shared our story of how Chrissy was a part of our lives.
Her dad just beamed as each of us spoke and then he thanked each of us with a toast. What a gift to be part of this wonderful celebration! In between, my thoughts went back to the Commencement Address given by Craig Culver Co-founder of Culver’s Restaurants. He spoke about his mom and how she was such a role model to him, always positive and hospitable at their businesses and at home. “Please” and “Thank you” were words he learned early along with a strong work ethic. He knows that is why he is such a success today.
As I sat through the graduation then dinner later, I could not help but feel a delight in the different expressions of family that I was experiencing. I hadn’t heard a public speech that heartwarming in a long time and our dinner time was over the top. It was amazing to see people of different cultures bonding so well (Chrissy’s family is Vietnamese; her professors are Japanese and African; and Sara’s family is from Wisconsin). To me, it proved that family is not always ‘blood family’ members.
Can you imagine how this world would look if we took the time to get to know people, help them in certain situations and respect their culture and beliefs? I saw it on a small scale and it gave me the energy to look at my life and see those who surround me: family, community, friends, work associates, etc. Am I open to listen to others or do I have all the answers? Even if I don’t agree with someone can I respect their opinion? Am I able to be hospitable when it costs me? Am I willing to move out of my comfort zone to meet people half way?
Lots of questions and answers that I am not sure of yet, but I know this past experience will remain on my heart and mind for some time. What about you? Who has been family to you? Who has helped you grow in understanding and wisdom? Perhaps they would appreciate a note letting them know. May your week be blessed and filled with reflective experiences.
Till next week,
Editor’s note: Sr. Theresita Donach, assistant national vocation director for the CSFNs, shares this weekly reflection via e-mail with a group of women discerning their vocation. If you are interested in joining that online community, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 847-298-6760 ext. 223.