June 7, 2013: The power of living quiet, heroic lives, by Sister Mary Jo Thummel
Seeing God in all things was built deeply into my physic by parents who saw God in every aspect of life. For them, life was like a symphony with a built-in harmony and rhythm that was often not understood by mere mortal minds.
Dad loved nature, and the beauty of its workings spoke to him. He enjoyed working the earth whether by hand or with machinery. Being one with the earth through tillage created peace in the depth of his being and was a fervent prayer. He delighted in the beauty of God flung all around him in sunrises and sunsets, waving wheat fields, rolling hills, soothing gentle rains or the display of majestic thunderstorms. One of his favorite pastimes was to take us for drives into the countryside and point out treasures large and small that spoke to him of God’s presence. It might be a small plant, newborn creature, or a stream, cave or canyon tucked away from ordinary view.
Dad was a mechanic and I loved to watch him study the workings of mechanical things. He would take apart pieces of machinery, carefully clean each piece and put it all back together again with joy and satisfaction. I think the inner workings of machines reminded him of the inner workings of nature and were to be as deeply cared for and respected.
A good counterpart to Dad’s more outward view of nature was Mom’s more unassuming acceptance of God’s presence in all things. The marvel of birth and every baby and child she ever had or held was a strong reflection of the wonderment of God.
To Mom fell the tasks of running a household with its mundane daily duties. Her appreciation of God’s beauty showed itself in her desire for cleanliness and order and her creative touches evidenced in sewing, quilting, bread making and growing a few flowers. Mom’s practical creativity touched all aspects of our home and lives and undergirded us with the assurance that things would work out if we did our part the best we could.
My parents weathered the storms of wondering if they had enough to supply the next meal for their family, the death of a child and rebuilding after a tornado. They managed, despite their human weaknesses, to come through these and lesser valleys in their lives with a deeper and stronger faith and resilience than before. Even in those times they recognized the peace of God’s presence with them.
They, like many parents, were the very human unsung heroes in my life. It might not always be our parents, but we all have had someone we know who has lived a quiet heroic life and taught us how to do the same.
— Sister Mary Jo Thummel is a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, presently serving on the Leadership Council, and a member of the Concordia Year of Peace Committee.
4 thoughts on “June 7, 2013: The power of living quiet, heroic lives, by Sister Mary Jo Thummel”
Ralph, who were your parents?
That is a lovely tribute to your parents and their faith. Very well said and it speaks so of memories of Kansas.
A beautiful tribute to the culture in which so many of us were formed in our faith. Thank you for expressing this.
This one slipped by me. It looks like it is a month old. I just wanted to thank Sister for remembering Mom and Dad, and for her sharing some of her memories of them. Even in the midst of great clamor, they found peace in living quiet lives of faith.