Jack was a slightly framed man who sold insurance for a living. He was a man of great faith who treasured his faith and his wife and three children. Jack had made it a practice to bless his children every evening as they went to bed. If his work took him from home at night, he would call and speak to each child a blessing. The words were simple: God bless you, Pete; Love and blessings, Jane, etc. Simple, but words expressed every night.
Jack and his wife were delighted when they could finally afford to buy a station wagon. The whole family admired it, but especially Pete who was 16 and had just acquired his driver’s license.
It was a busy day for Jack’s family. The younger children had after school activities. Lora, Jack’s wife, was visiting her Mother and would be home by dark. Jack had a meeting of the volunteer firefighters’ association at a restaurant three blocks from home and Pete had football practice and was the first one home.
The dark blue station wagon sparkled in the light coming in from the garage door window. Pete went out to admire it once again. That’s when the thought came to him: Why not take the car for a drive and treat his buddies for a ride? He would probably be back before Dad and Mom got home. So that’s what he did.
It was a sharp curve, and a very big tree that was Pete’s undoing. He hit the tree, his foot on the gas instead of the brake. His riders had been dropped off, and he was unhurt but the car was totaled.
News like that travels fast in a small town, and before the police got to the scene of the accident, Jack was there. Pete was standing alone, unhurt, with tears running down his face. Jack only asked if he was all right. The two of them walked home in silence.
At home, Pete went to his room and Jack stretched out on the sofa with the paper. Not too long after Pete quietly came into the living room and stood by the sofa. Jack lowered the paper and looked at his son. Pete said, “Dad, I really messed up bad. Any punishment you want to give me I deserve. But, Dad, you will still bless me tonight, please?”
The blessing of his father had such an impact on this big, strapping boy that it would be the worst punishment of all not to be blessed by his dad.
Sometimes it is not easy for a Father or Mother to say the words “God bless you.”
The earlier you begin to do so, the easier it will be to continue. However, there are always times when that phrase can be uttered. Birthdays are a good time to start it, or holidays, like Thanksgiving, or Christmas or graduation. The idea though is to say it often enough that children come to expect it.
For each of you who are reading this reflection, I say, “God bless you today and tomorrow and every day of your life.”
Peace and Joy,
S. Sharonlu, OSF
Oldenburg Franciscan Center
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg