Looking Back, Being Present, Looking Forward

by Robert Dunkan

I became aware of a lovely poem titled Back Home by Margaret McCarty today.  It’s about looking back and wishing you could start over by listening to your parent’s advice (and taking it) a little more than you did and appreciating their love and care more a second time around….if only you could go back.  I can think of countless things my parents told me that I wish I would have listened to but even so, they raised me well and my life turned out pretty good with a 19-year marriage, the 3 beautiful daughters we’re raising, and my Catholic faith firmly intact.

I’m glad my parents are still here, both about to turn 70 soon, so I can let them know that all the things they taught me were heard and are appreciated now, much more in mid-life, than they were in my youth.  It also gives me a bit of peace when my daughters seem to not really hear or take to heart the life lessons I’m trying to teach them.  I have more faith that even though the evidence seems to the contrary, that the seed is indeed well planted and will serve them well in their journey.

Lastly, this poem brought to mind that although I have gained wisdom and grace, there is still more growing to do.  There are still ways I can apply what I know even better in order to merit children who will be able to look back at their mother as fondly as the author of this poem was able to look back at hers.

BACK HOME

If I had the power to turn back the clock,
to go to the house at the end of the block,
The house that was home when I was a kid,
I know I would love it more than I did.

If I could be back there at my fathers knee,
and hear once again all the things he told me,
I’d listen as I never listened before,
for he knew all too well just what life had in store.

And all the advice that dad used to give,
His voice I’ll remember as long as I live,
It didn’t seem very important then,
What I would give to live it all over again.

But what I would give for the chance I once had,
to do something more for my mother and dad,
I’d give them a little more joy and a little less pain,
a little more sunshine and a little less rain.

The years roll by and we cannot go back,
Whether we were born in a mansion or in a shack,
But we can start right now in the hour that’s here,
and do something more, for the ones we hold dear.

Since time in it’s flight is speeding so fast,
there’ll be no time spent regretting what’s past.
Let’s make tomorrow a happier day,
by doing our good unto others today.

~ Margaret W. McCarty © 2016. All rights res

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“But gain a good name by well doing my duty”

Image result for painting of woman working in rose garden

My oldest daughter received the Sacrament of Confirmation last week.  She chose St. Therese of Lisieux as her Confirmation name so we got her a pink leather bound St. Therese Bible that has a quote by the saint and my daughter’s first and middle name (Rose) engraved on the front.  St. Therese said “When I die, I will send down a shower of roses from the heavens, I will spend my heaven by doing good on earth.”  My Grandmother introduced me to this saying when she advised that I should pray to The Little Flower, as she is affectionately referred to, and said that she has often received answers to her prayers accompanied by a rose from this saint’s intercession .

When I was pregnant with my oldest, my mother told me she knew I was going to have a girl because that morning she saw 1 pink rose blooming on her rose bush after all the other roses had died and the season was over.  I had already picked my girl name with Rose as the middle name since that is a family name on my husband’s side, so she took that late-blooming rose as a sign that surely she would have a granddaughter.

About ten years ago we had to travel out of state for the funeral of my cousin’s 12 year old daughter who passed away in an auto accident.  At the time, neither my cousin (Catholic) nor his wife (Christian, from I’m not sure what denomination) were practicing their faith.  I spent my time in the car on the way home praying the Rosary for their dear daughter and for them as well.  One of the things I requested was that they would find their way to practicing their faith again and that my cousin’s wife would convert to Catholicism so they could have a shared faith together along with their son.  I remember as I was praying that I smelled the overwhelming scent of fresh flowers.  So much so that I had to ask if anyone else in the car had brought some with them from the funeral.  The strong scent lasted about five minutes and then faded away.  It was then that I knew that my prayers had indeed been heard.  It was only a few years later that we received the news that my cousin’s wife had been received into the Church.

What I experienced was not a new phenomenon.  It’s actually pretty common.  Here’s a link to an interesting discussion of the topic by ordinary folks.    The Catholic Church calls it the odor of sanctity when the scent is associated with living or deceased saints.

I’m bringing all this up simply because I came across this lovely poem today that speaks of how doing our duty well will remain after we are gone like the scent of the rose remains after the flower has died.  It’s comforting to know  that our works can live on and “scent” the future of those touched by our faithfulness.  I think God has allowed us this occassional grace of these heavenly scents to remind us of the real beauty contained in all that is good even when it’s not immediately visible to us.

The Rose

How fair is the Rose!
what a beautiful flower!
The glory of April and May:
But the leaves are beginning to fade in an hour,
And they wither and die in a day.


Yet the Rose has one powerful virtue to boast,
Above all the flowers of the field!
When its leaves are all dead and fine colours are lost,
Still how sweet a perfume it will yield!


So frail is the youth and the beauty of man,
Though they bloom and look gay like the Rose;
But all our fond care to preserve them is vain,
Time kills them as fast as he goes.


Then I’ll not be proud of my youth and my beauty,
Since both of them wither and fade;
But gain a good name by well doing my duty:
This will scent like a Rose when I’m dead.


~ Isaac Watts

Arranging Roses