Appleton, WI

June 26/27: Day by Day with Father Bill – Weekend Edition

I am writing this reflection at the beginning of my vacation in Colfax, Wisconsin. My brother, Bob, and sister-in-law, Judy, have graciously opened their lakehouse to me for the week. The evening sun is shimmering through the pine trees. Tainter Lake is some 120 steps down from the top of the hill where the lake house sits. Those steps are formidable and impossible for me to manage with my impaired balance. All trips on the lake begin with picking me up at the boat landing where I board the boat.

This is an idyllic place, very peaceful and beautiful. I am taking it easy and doing some praying, reading, reflecting, and writing. My nephew and his wife and my niece and her husband, and their son and two daughters are nearby. My nephew likes grilled ribeye steaks so those are on the menu, provided by yours truly from Jacob’s Meats. Ribeye steaks come with a precious price but they are worth it and melt in your mouth. Hope to spend a day in the park with my niece’s kids. The three of them are so sweet!

It feels so good to return to what life was before the pandemic. If you’re like me, I took all of this connecting with family and friends for granted. Let’s be resolved to treasure each other even more!

God willing, I am planning on finishing up my reflection on our Synod experience, which I have titled Were Not Our Hearts Burning Within Us, which about sixty of our parish family members participated in on the Eve of Pentecost, May 21. Our time together on that day was Grace-filled and Spirit-inspired. There was a joy in our Community Room that must have been present, too, among Mary and the Disciples in that Upper Room on the first Pentecost.

Post-Synod, my hope is to convene Task Forces of people interested in developing specific experiences that will help us move forward as a parish family and a community of faith that is committed to reflecting hope and healing to our families, our parish family and beyond. What specific action items can we implement in our mission/vision focus areas of fellowship, discipleship, ministry, worship, and mission that will deepen our experience of the Lord and his church?

On these days when there is so much division among our US Bishops, it falls on us at the grassroots to be a community that welcomes, listens, and accepts others rather than judges and excludes them. Hearts are not changed overnight. What is needed is a willingness to accompany people in a spirit of respect, sensitivity and compassion. Fostering an environment that encourages belonging must always come before any calls to conversion. It is in finding common areas in which we can work together to address the hopes and dreams of our fellow human beings that we will come closer together to each other. In that closeness there can be a grace that bridges our differences. When we find something we can do together to make our church and world better, we will grow in love for one another and, from that new-found love and respect, we can begin to address our differences. It is always the work of the Holy Spirit to create a unity that centers around a consistent ethic and solidarity of life. The beauty of the whole always shines more brightly than its individual parts.

Pray for me as I promise to pray for you.