Today's guest post is from Lisa Hendey of Productivity at Home.
This week, on Monday, my mother and I took a road trip retreat to
visit with one of my favorite people in the world. My childhood
pastor, Msgr. Michael Collins, is an Irish priest who lives in the
seaside community of Seal Beach, California. On his next birthday,
"Father", as we call him, will celebrate 90 years of life.
A former professional Irish national team rugby player, Father now
hones his competitive skills with a mean bridge game at the local
leisure world. He lives quietly in a small home adjacent to his former
parish and fills his days with visits from groupies like me and trips
to the beach on his personal scooter. At the shore each day, Father
sits quietly on a bench looking out at the ocean and praying his rosary
until someone comes along to visit. He shared with my mom and I that
most days that rosary doesn't get finished, since someone in need of a
listening ear inevitably stops by to visit with him. "The people are a part of the prayer though," he says with his lilting Irish brogue.
I make these visits to Father at least twice a year - they have
become a pilgrimage of sorts. I wake early and drive the four hours to
LA timing my route to avoid morning traffic. I arrive at Seal Beach in
time to visit the quaint shops on Main Street and stroll along the pier
watching the seals frolic. I revel in the cool sea breeze that stings
my face and fill my lungs with that unique scent, a mix of salt and
fish. I thank God for my life and for the many people in it who share
themselves with me so abundantly. Then I make my way to Father's.
The front door to Father's little cottage is always open when he's
home, indicating his constant willingness to welcome visitors. Every
time I walk through that door, I say a quiet prayer of thanks for yet
another opportunity to immerse myself in some of Father's wisdom, wit
and goodness. In his company, I'm a sponge, trying to soak in as much
as I can to see me though to my next visit. Despite his advancing age,
Father is completely up to date on all the current events. This week,
I had to endure his lamentations about the state of affairs in the
Notre Dame football program. Our visits fill my heart with laughter,
with knowledge, with spiritual reflection and with love. From current
affairs to the Sunday gospel, from gossip updates about family friends
to news of the clan in Ireland, Father always has something to share.
Alongside his favorite chair are the stack of books and periodicals
he's currently reading, photos sent to him by family and friends, and
the day's crossword puzzle - he credits his mental health to that daily
My normal visits with Father last less than two hours - I try to be
considerate of his time and his need for rest, although I'm truly never
ready to say goodbye. I know there are so many others like me who need
time in his presence, so I try not to be greedy. Our visits always end
with a hug and his blessing for my health and wellbeing. I emerge from
his home spiritually and mentally charged for my mission in this life.
Do you have someone in your life like Father - a mentor who means
the world to you? Maybe it's your first grade teacher or the guy who
coached your little league team. Maybe it's your first boss, or even
your current one. Whoever that person is, try your hardest to make
time to let them know you appreciate all they have given you in this
life. Spend time in their company and try to quantify for yourself
what that relationship truly means to you. Especially if they are
advancing in age, prioritize spending time in their company both for
their benefit and for your own.
- Learning happens every day, even in the smallest moments.
- It may
present itself in book form, in a nugget of truth you hear in a movie,
or even in the form of an elderly Irish gentlemen sitting near the
beach with a listening ear.
- Seize those moments, and see what happens.