The Heart Leaf Philodendron

Many years ago, when I moved into my first apartment, my father gave me a plant. He actually took leaves from a plant that hung in his living room and gave me a portion of it to re-plant at my new home.

What I soon discovered was this was no ordinary plant.

My dad had quite the green thumb—he could make anything grow. The original plant was a Heart Leaf Philodendron, a common house plant. It’s been used as an indoor plant since Victorian times, and it has the ability to grow very large.

He helped me re-plant my new leaves into a small planter, and just like that, I had an instant decoration for my home.

At first it was fun to watch the leaves begin to sprout and expand. Then, the plant exploded. The vines grew long, and I wrapped them around the tiny planter. I knew I would have to re-pot it soon.

My plant traveled with me as I moved over the years. No matter where I put it—living room, kitchen, dining room—it continued to grow. All I needed to do was water the soil, spray the leaves and make sure I gave it a little bit of love.

Then my father died.

He had a heart attack on a Friday morning, and for the first time in my life I came face-to-face with death. It hurt.

The plant now took on a special meaning. This was a connection with my dad, and I wanted it close to me. I wanted to see it, so I could think of him and what he meant to me. So I took it to work and put it in my office.

But, as much as I wanted it around me, I found myself getting preoccupied with projects, paperwork and life…and the plant was neglected.

After returning from a long weekend, I found it drooping, sagging, and brown. A lot of the leaves were dead.

How could I have done this? How could I have treated my dad’s plant this way?

I cut back the dead vines, and grabbed a bottle of water. I had to return to the beginning–a small plant ready to grow again.

And it slowly came back to life, resurrected.

And then it hit me. My dad was a man of great faith. He taught me how to love and honor God. He taught me how to embrace the Holy Spirit’s constant love. He taught me to how to walk with Jesus, through good times and bad.

He was still teaching me, even after he was gone.

Sometimes we all need to stop and cut back the bad vines. We need to water our soil and spray our leaves. We need learn once again how to give a little bit of love.

And we need to believe in the power of the resurrection.

This Heart Leaf Philodendron was no ordinary plant.

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK

 

Advertisements

Love One Another

Love one another…

What does it mean to love? I remember back in high school, we had to read a book entitled “Love” by Leo Buscaglia (1972) as part of our theology instruction sophomore year. It was in the context of this book that I learned many things about this little four letter word, that can have such ambiguity as much as it can have definition.

I went and pulled it off the shelf of my library as I pondered the commandment to “love one another.” While Jesus had provided example after example of what love really looks like in the gospels, the climax being His Passion, rarely are we ever confronted with such a selfless act of love on a daily basis. I thumbed through the pages to see if my sophomore self had left me any nuggets of inspiration, when I stumbled upon an annotation that read:

Love means to commit oneself without guarantee, to give oneself completely in the hope that our love will produce love in the loved person. Love is an act of faith, and whoever is of little faith is also of little love. The perfect love would be one that gives all and expects nothing. (p.96)

Clearly, Jesus feels that we should be able to do this, otherwise, He wouldn’t have given us this directive. Typically, one does not ask of others what one would not do themselves. God loves us. We are to love one another.

I was recently reminded of the phrase “To love another person is to see the face of God,” notably coined in Les Miserable. Do you take time to reflect upon your relationships with this in mind? As I think about it, parents are the first teachers of love. As a parent, I vividly recall the moment I first laid eyes on my children and the overwhelming love that existed in that moment. I can truly say I saw the face of God. I still do. The love of a parent for a child is the closest thing in our human existence that compares to the love that God has for us. A parent would lay their life down for their child. That is what God did for us through Jesus – the ultimate sacrifice. In turn, we must love one another like that.

To all of the moms out there who make sacrifices, take “abuse,” give love, share smiles and tears to show your children the love of the Lord through your face, thank you.

 

Jill Fischer is the Principal of St. Dominic Catholic School

 

I Can Do All Things in Him Who Strengthens Me

Do you ever feel you are not worthy of God’s love? I do, but thankfully, He thinks I am.

Or do you ever fall into the trap of thinking that God will love us no matter what, and He will, and therefore we can go around doing what we want whenever we want?

We have been created to love and be love to others. We are created in His image and likeness, a privilege not a one of us has asked for, but was freely given.

Just as in any relationship, freedom and responsibility go hand in hand. We have a tremendous amount of freedom, but we have a responsibility to use it to do God’s will. This is a huge responsibility and thankfully, He thinks we can do it. He empowers us with gifts of grace and virtue to make it happen. He provides us with sacraments to help us stay true to that gift.

Why in the world don’t we take it? Do we really not want to receive it?

Heaven is not a given. Then why do we hesitate to fully participate in our responsibilities to love God above all things and to love our neighbor as ourselves? Why do we restrict ourselves from our full potential?

I think I will ponder on that.

“St. Paul said, ‘I can do all things in him who strengthens me.’ You must come to the conviction that with Jesus, you can do all things. Even the weakness that troubles you, you can get rid of with him.” – Mother Theresa, Thirsting for God

 
Jill Fischer is the Principal of St. Dominic Catholic School

A Message of Hope

Over the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of volunteering at the Riverwest Food Pantry. I greet the individuals and families who enter the building and select their food for the week or month. It’s been a life-changing experience as I’ve gotten to know a lot of the people who utilize the pantry on a regular basis.

Last weekend the pantry held their annual Christmas Gift Giving celebration. Partnering with a local church, the entire pantry was converted into “a store” filled with donated toys, books and clothing for kids.

Parents sign up to “shop,” then they choose and wrap gifts for their children.

It is a very special event for these parents, as many of these families cannot afford a lot for Christmas.

Parents pre-registered and were invited to sit in the pews at the beautiful St. Casimir church. Here they waited for their designated shopping time to be called.

I was fortunate to be the person who greets the parents at the front door.

The first person in line was Annette, a woman I have talked to many times at the pantry. She told me how in year’s past, she’s had to wait hours to shop at this event, and was always concerned that there wouldn’t be enough gifts left for her to choose from.

“I guarantee you,” I said. “You will be one of the first people to shop downstairs. You will have your choice of items to pick from.”

The church quickly began to fill with people—we had enough gifts for over 400 children! Then the announcement came for the first group to head down the stairs to shop.

Annette was the first in line. As she approached me, her face beamed with happiness. Her smile was infectious. She didn’t say a single word, she simply walked up to me, extended her arms, and gave me the biggest hug I’ve ever received. I whispered two words in her ear: “Merry Christmas.”

But then something magical happened. The next person in line also extended their arms and gave me a hug. And the next person. And the next. Everyone in line extended their arms and gave me a hearty embrace.

The group that filed down the stairs to shop believed that they were the ones receiving a gift. But what they didn’t know was that I was the one who felt truly blessed that day.

The love we shared with these simple hugs reinforced that there is hope in the world. It reinforced that yes, we can influence people with a simple smile and a lot of compassion. It showed me that we have the ability to make a difference with both our words and our actions.

Are you ready for the birth of Christ? Are you ready to transform someone’s life in 2018?

Are you ready to share a message of Hope to everyone that you meet in the new year?

Merry Christmas.

 

Dan Herda is member of St. Dominic’s Marketing Committee and an editor of theROCK.