October 26, 2012

Emmaus Walk / Debra Tomaselli

When something seems like forever … maybe it’s not!

Debra TomaselliYoung children can surprise us with the things they say. Sometimes, as in this case, they deliver a divine perspective.

It all began when I told a story about my mother. Avé, my 5-year-old granddaughter, cocked her head, blonde curls spilling to the side.

“Your mother?” she asked. “Who is she?”

“Oh, you don’t know her,” I replied with a wave of my hand. “She died before you were born.”

I looked away, thinking the conversation had ended.

But as an afterthought, I mumbled, “In fact, she died before your mother was born.”

Moments later, I heard her tiny voice fumbling with the words.

“She died? W-where is she?”

Before I could respond, Avé spoke again. “Is she in heaven?”

Relief washed over me. Avé could understand that. Sadly, she was introduced to the concepts of death and heaven after my daughter gave birth to a stillborn child last year.

“Yes,” I said, sitting back in my chair. “Yes, she’s in heaven.”

My little granddaughter looked up. Our eyes met in one intense moment.

“Still?” she asked. “She’s in heaven. … Still?”

I chuckled at her comment until, days later, I found myself struggling with an ethical issue.

Unexpectedly, I was in a whistleblower-type situation where I was the one who would have been making the noise. It happened when I was directed to send an e-mail with a slanted reply to keep a transaction alive.

When I questioned this, I was told that the partial answer “wasn’t a big deal.”

Of course it was. Most likely, the contract would cancel if all the details were disclosed.

Struggling, I hesitated to send the skewed communication.

“Why are you making such a big deal?” my friend finally grumbled. “Do you want to rock the boat? This is a done deal. Just answer the way I told you. Otherwise, you might create problems.”

I didn’t want to instigate difficulties. I didn’t want to disrupt relationships. It wasn’t my fault anyway, was it? Someone else was telling me what to say, right? Still grappling, I pushed the send button.

But the knot in my stomach didn’t disappear like the words on the computer screen.

Rather, the agony escalated. I woke up in the dark of the night, wrestling with my decision. Tossing and turning, I realized there was no easy solution.

The next morning, I dreaded powering up my computer.

I couldn’t escape the anxiety. I suffered for what seemed an eternity and then, while praying for guidance, I suddenly remembered the message delivered by my granddaughter: This life is not forever. Eternity lasts an eternity.

Had my perspectives been turned upside down? Was I more concerned about easing the discomfort of this temporal life than in its everlasting consequences?

With that, I felt courageous.

Bracing myself, I sent a corrected e-mail, adding the details previously omitted. I didn’t know what would happen, but I prayed for the strength to deal with the aftermath.

Instead, chaos never came. Finally, after what seemed an eternity but in reality was less than 24 hours, the responding e-mail arrived.

“Not a problem,” it read. “Proceed as planned.”

(Debra Tomaselli lives in Altamonte Springs, Fla. Her column appears in several diocesan newspapers. Her e-mail address is dtomaselli@cfl.rr.com.)

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