We settled in our neck of the woods because we believe we have found a rare treasure in the community. We like the semi-rural feel of our Minnesota town, but having stumbled upon a vibrant parish community with similar values we knew we needed to plant roots here. We are committed to the families around us as they have been similarly committed to us through the ups and downs of life.
After the birth of our eighth child, I was diagnosed with a rare dissection of my carotid artery.
I had a nearly complete blockage which led to a stroke and difficult recovery. In the following months, we received an out-pouring of generosity from family and friends. The memory of one dear gesture of hospitality delivered by our parish community just days before Christmas will always bring to my eyes tears of humility and gratefulness.
It was snowing hard and I knew we were to receive a token of love because I had received a message from a friend telling me she’d be over to deliver it soon. Humbled upon her arrival, before my eyes was an abundance of foods and household items to help lighten our load in the coming weeks.
We made a delicious Christmas Eve feast with these items. Such a gift.
One simple item caught my eye. It was a can of jellied cranberry sauce, the kind from Aldi that costs 88 cents. I had never purchased jellied cranberries, but it seemed festive so I slid it out in one can-shaped plop and sliced it for the family. Unanimously, that jellied cranberry sauce tasted like pure heaven.
We thanked God for that humble can of jellied cranberries because it was given in a generous out-pouring of love for our family from a community who fully embraces the Works of Mercy. I wept eating that slice of cranberries because it was God’s Divine Mercy towards a family who was struggling a little bit that Christmas.
A few years have passed since that can of cranberry jelly arrived on my doorstep among other generous gifts and acts of service. We’re thankfully in a much different place now and grateful we can be on the giving end once again rather than in a place where humble reception is what Christ asks.
That can of cranberry jelly symbolizes a dependence on one another, each in our own turn.
Not long ago, we received. Today, we will give again. But every year on Christmas Eve, there will be a can of jellied cranberries at our dinner table as a reminder of the gift of hospitality, and we will thank God for His goodness to us.