Things that Last

by Melannie Svoboda SND on February 1, 2016

The other morning before I crawled out of bed, I checked the time on my small clock radio. As I did, I found myself asking, “How old is this clock anyway?” I remember buying it when I moved to Detroit. That was in 1993. So that clock has been keeping time, playing music, and waking me up for 23 years.

My little clock radio that has lasted 23 years.

My little clock radio that has lasted for 23 years.

I reflected on other things in my life that have lasted. I have a bright pink sweatshirt that a friend gave me about 30 years ago. Just imagine how many washings it has withstood and yet it’s still good enough to wear. My sister still uses a pan and a lid that my mother got at her wedding shower in 1937. And I still use a white hand towel my mother bought for her trousseau. It’s very precious to me because my mother herself crocheted the pretty pink border along its edges.

I met a Christmas cactus once that should get some award for longevity. It belonged to my mother’s friend, Tillie, who was 95. She had gotten that plant for her 15th birthday, so it was 80 years old! Other things in nature last a long time too. A certain whale was once washed up on shore with a part of a harpoon stuck in him. The harpoon was 150 years old—so how old was that whale? And tortoises last a long time too. One was documented to be over 255 years old. And there’s a sequoia tree in California that is (drum roll please!) over 3,500 years old! That means it was already about 1500 years old when Jesus walked this earth!

The towel from my mother's trousseau.

The towel from my mother’s trousseau.

There’s more. The house I live in was built in 1848. That’s old by American standards—but it’s nothing compared to some buildings in other parts of the world. While visiting the Czech Republic, I toured a village built in the 16th Century. One building used to be a Jesuit school. Today it’s a bank, but the fact remains, that building is still being used!

My musings led me to reflect on other things that have lasted in my life that I sometimes take for granted, but for which I am very grateful—like friendships… family… faith… love. We tend to celebrate love that lasts a long time. At my sister’s parish, once a month at the end of Mass the priest and congregation bless couples who have a wedding anniversary that month. (They also pray for single parents, the widowed, and the divorced.) Each couple stands and tells how long they’ve been married. Last time I was there, one couple stood up and said they were married for 71 years! I was amazed they both could still stand up! Love that lasts for a long time is the most amazing thing of all, isn’t it?

Throughout scripture we are told that one characteristic of God’s love is this: it lasts. In Exodus we read: “The Lord (is) a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity, continuing his kindness for a thousand generations” (Ex. 34:6). Other translations say God is “steadfast in love” or “loyal in love.” The psalms too sing of God’s everlasting love. I’m particularly fond of Psalm 118 which repeats over and over again, “God’s love endures forever.”

The New Testament too proclaims God’s everlasting love for us. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that helove-209900__180 gave his only Son…” Then there’s Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son. And his tender words in Luke 12:32: “Fear not, little flock.” Why not? Because God loves us so much! I believe these words are especially needed today when so many of our headlines seem to be saying, “Fear! Fear!”

Today I suggest you take an inventory of the things that have lasted in your life. Start perhaps with specific things you use regularly—from your heirlooms to your knees! Then pray and thank God for those relationships that have lasted a long time, the ones that give support and nourishment for your life’s journey. And finally, let us thank God for God’s great love for us, a love that is steadfast, loyal, and yes, ever-lasting.

 

This song celebrates God’s everlasting love for us as individuals and as members of God’s family. It’s called “You Are Mine” and was written by David Haas. As you listen to or sing along with this song, hear God saying these words to you personally:

What has lasted in your life?

How have you personally experienced God’s everlasting love?

Did any words in this song speak to you today?

PS: I helped with a retreat last weekend at St. Paul’s Church in St. Petersburg, Florida. I want to thank the many women who planned and participated in the lively event. I was inspired by their faith and goodness!

 

 

 

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathleen February 1, 2016 at 3:55 am

Sr. Melanie,

My marriage has lasted almost 30 years. A real blessing!

Kathleen

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Kathy February 1, 2016 at 7:22 am

Sister Melannie,

Again, thanks for your words today.

I just celebrated 36 years at the same job! My birthday is in 2 weeks, I will be 59. And in a few months, my husband and I will celebrate 36 years of marriage. Those are all long-lasting things that I treasure.

Additionally, I have made quilts for my children and for many nieces and nephews’ babies. I hope that these survive a long time and they will remember me fondly, and will think of the love I put into making them.

That connects me with God thinking of the love and care put into creation of the world, and of each of us.

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June February 1, 2016 at 8:46 am

We will soon celebrate 48years of marriage. Also I have a house plant one of my sisters brought me when I was in the hospital giving birth to my daughter. My daughter just had her 46th birthday.

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Patty February 1, 2016 at 10:04 am

Thank you, Sister.

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Anne Busch February 1, 2016 at 10:05 am

I have had my best friend for 59 years. I met her when I was 4. I will celebrate 42 years of marriage in August. My other best friend and I are going on 36 years of friendship. I still have a miraculous medal that my Dad gave to my Mom over 67 years old.
I enjoyed today and am reflecting on things and especially people that last and support you in some way. My family and friendships are so important to me, and I never want to take them for granted! Thank you for another great “Sunflower Seeds”.

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Marjorie February 1, 2016 at 10:22 am

What has lasted in my life? Some friendships – my marriage (45 years) – my first Communion book, rosary, and statue from 1951 – some other childhood memorabilia – my love for books and flowers – and Thank God, my faith that has been tested over and over again. That faith allows me to love and have hope.

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Carol February 1, 2016 at 11:17 am

I LOVE this song…found myself singing with the video, loudly – although always through tears! My husband & I will celebrate 48 years of marriage this year. We had dinner with 5 other couples the other night, whom we have know since our children were in grade school, over 35 years.
Family, friends, relationships -lasting many years -are most important in my life. Thank you Sister, for reminding me!

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LJ February 1, 2016 at 11:33 am

Sister – I loved this posting; I hope you don’t mind, but I shared your link on FB.

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Melannie Svoboda SND February 2, 2016 at 8:45 am

Dear LJ, Feel free to share my postings… Thank you! Sr. Melannie

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Susan Bachner February 1, 2016 at 1:42 pm

Sr. Melannie:

My husband, Ralph and I are married 34 years. Our love continues to grow and is nurtured by God’s grace.

I also have a little church that plays Silent Night. It was given to me when I was born from our parish priest. The church is still intact and is 67 years old.

Thank you for this peace and for the song. It is one of my favorites.

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Pat February 1, 2016 at 2:33 pm

Thank you, Sr. Melannie! My husband & I celebrate our anniversary today- 47 yrs. We are blessed to have each other, our children, 5 grandchildren and many mementos from our families. “You are Mine” always brings tears. God bless you!
Pat

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Diane February 1, 2016 at 3:33 pm

I have to say that God’s faithful love has been with me all my life, even those times I turned away from him, even all those years that I tried to go my own way, the years I tried to live out my faith, the ups and downs of life and the ins and outs of devotion. But, in spite of my pride and sinfulness, he has been there waiting for me, and has given me so many blessings and a wonderful family to love. His patience is enduring!

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Evelyn B. Allen February 1, 2016 at 5:38 pm

Recently, the cedar chest that my father gave to my mother for their wedding (1928) became my granddaughter’s (born 1985)). We emptied it, so I could retain its contents. In it were my baby book with a lock of my hair as well as detailed descriptions of my first years (1933-34). My first pair of shoes and gloves were in it. Also in the chest were my children’s baptismal clothes, baby blankets, and handmade , crocheted articles by my mother. It is a treasure trove of memories. My grandchildren have asked me to write my memoirs, so their children can have a sense of their heritage. So far their are two great – grandchildren with another due in August. I am blessed!

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Jane & Chuck Strauss February 1, 2016 at 5:58 pm

Today being our 58th Wedding Anniversary, this meditation was right on target. In addition, Jane sang this beautiful David Haas’ song at Chuck’s brother’s funeral– extra meanings, Sr. Mel– thank you!

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Sister Miriam February 1, 2016 at 6:08 pm

In my bedroom I have a large crucifix that hung in my grandparents house (both died in the 1950); a hand cut out embroidery dresser scarf made by my grandmother who died in 1980 at the age of 94; and recently put away my Christmas nativity that my mother had painted when she was a teenager and she died in 2012 at the age of 90…….all these “old” things I treasure very much

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Annette February 1, 2016 at 7:37 pm

Hi Sister, we celebrated our 60th wedding anniversary last July 4th! I am still using linens, and kitchen utensils I received at my shower.

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Susan February 2, 2016 at 12:55 pm

I have had a long a long relationship with my childhood church (approximately 50 years). Recently I was home and at my childhood church praying both to our Lord and patron saint ST. Anthony of Padua, and my prayer was answered. I know realize more fully what a blessing this relationship has been throughout my life.

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Stephanie February 2, 2016 at 5:54 pm

Thank you Sr. Melannie,
I thank God every morning for the blessings in my life, especially my husband of 31 years and my beautiful 29 year old daughter, but your words this week reminded me of so many other things I am grateful for that have lasted through the years…I have my Grandma’s rosary, which must be at least 100 years old by now, and creamer and sugar bowl she received for her wedding and photos of my grandparents and great-grandma, which I gave to my daughter (5 generations!)…I have childhood friends, Mary Ellen, Dan & David, whom I have known for the entire 62 years of my life, and their younger sister, Gayle, for her 59 years…my father and mother lived on this earth for 78 & 88 years, respectively, but they live on in my memories…which brings me to the wonderful hymn selection you chose. “You are Mine” was the recessional hymn I chose for my mom’s funeral…so I cried through the entire video…thanks for that as well…I love that hymn.

I think I will keep in mind this theme and meditate on it the rest of the day…I am going to do some ironing now (the only household chore I really enjoy…really, I do) and I actually have to iron a linen blouse that I have had…let’s see…since the early 80’s (a bit threadbare, but I only wear it around the house and to the pottery studio). God bless you Sr. Melannie and, again, thank you.

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Leonard Viggiano February 2, 2016 at 9:16 pm

My wife and I will be married 45 yrs. this May. She has been such a blessing to me.
I certainly would like that hymn sung at my funeral mass.

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Michelle Ruddell-Rabb February 3, 2016 at 12:54 pm

Hi Sister Melannie:

I thank God for my wonderful parents who were married for 67 years. My father died at 89 and mother at 91 years of age. What a blessing!

And just as you I was wondering about a microwave that has followed me to 3 homes. It is 34 years old and the only thing ever replaced in it is a light bulb!

Wonderful, wonderful post. Thank you so much. M.

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Lisa Dickson February 3, 2016 at 1:28 pm

My dear friend, Michelle,
Thank you for sharing Sister Melannie’s story with me today. It did bring to mind several things in my life which have lasted a while – this year will be 23 years in my marriage (27 years total), my daughter turns 31 this year, I have my grandmother’s flatware, which must be at least 45-50 years old, my great-grandmother’s sewing machine-at least 65 years old, a table which belonged to my grandmother-at least 50 years old, and many, many photographs of family. However, the oldest friendship I have is with you, which is probably close to 30 years old. I thank God for blessing me with your presence in my life, Michelle. I love you dear friend.

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Tom February 4, 2016 at 10:31 am

I am grateful for memories that last, my own and those of others who have shared theirs with me. I am amazed how a brief notation in a diary/log/ journal can bring back a long forgotten event, with sights, sounds and even smells. Heirloom photos of family members I never met also elicit a sense of connection with my family of origin. All great gifts!

P.S. I take great delight in every old N-Series Ford Tractor that has outlasted all of its predecessors, ready and willing to be someone else’s first tractor!

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Rose February 4, 2016 at 12:40 pm

Thank you for another wonderful post, Melannie.

After my father died in 2007, my mother went through some of his belongings and gave certain items to different individuals in our family. To me she gave the very small prayer book issued by the Army when my Dad served in World War II. While it may not be as old as some of the other items/relationships mentioned in these posts, it is so meaningful to me due to the circumstances. When I think of that young man fighting in that war, wondering if he would survive to return to the woman he loved (by the way, he and my mother were married for 62 years!), using that prayer book–it is overwhelming to me.

I know of only one of his war experiences: one time my father went into a battle in a forest with nine other soldiers; only three of them came out alive. I can see in my mind’s eye how fervently he used that prayer book!

So grateful to God for this and so much more!

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Susan February 4, 2016 at 7:16 pm

Every night when I turn out the light to go to sleep I am greeted by the warm light from my little plastic glow-in-the-dark rosary I have had since I was a small child. I am 48 now and am amazed that I have been able to hold on to it for so long! My kids chuckle that I am still attached to it and use it as a “nightlight” of sorts but it brings me comfort to think God has stayed with me all these years. Thank you for such a lovely post, Melannie!

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Jean Canatsey February 4, 2016 at 9:33 pm

Love and friendships have lasted for me. My husband and I will celebrate 60 years of marriage on June 9th and we are still good friends with my maid of honor and my husband’s best friend. I’ve also been a Liturgical Musician since the age of eleven. Music lasts forever.

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Shirley Sahlfeld February 22, 2016 at 6:34 pm

So great to reflect on “old” things. We will be Celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary this year; this is a blessing. I have the sewing machine my Great Grandma sewed my Grandma’s wedding dress on. This I cherish very much.
Thanks sister for this wonderful blog.

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