I just received a phone call that my dear spiritual director went to heaven at 4:41 this morning. Let me say that this man is a saint so let me share a story about our last visit together.
Last Saturday, by the grace of God when I went to visit my dearest friend, Walt was back. Thankfully, he was alert and verbal and you could see him reflecting on what he wanted to say before he spoke. I asked him what he was thinking about at this time in his life. With hands folded, he looked up to heaven and with tears in his eyes said: “Why me? Why me Lord?”
Please understand, these were not words of self-pity because he had suffered for many years. Rather, they were words of profound gratitude that God had chosen him to be his friend. That was the question he had been asking God for many weeks and then suddenly Walt got his answer: “Thy will be Done.”
And so, the vocation you have embarked on in this life is not something you choose, it's something you discover. And it might sound like a little thing, but it is not a little thing, especially when you look at how our culture might interpret the concept of success or happiness. Our culture might interpret many things like, "I get to choose who I am." Or, "I get to choose what aspects of me are most important or least important." Or, "I get to choose what I'm going to be."
Christian spirituality doesn't look at it that way. As Christians, we see it as a discovery. We see it as, OK, God has already placed all this stuff within us. He's created us, now he wants us to discover who we truly are. He wants us to discover that best-version-of-ourselves. And of course, we discover that best-version-of-ourselves by discovering more and more about him. We learn more about ourselves when we enter into a friendship with God.
Walt in his spiritual journey understood that God had created him as an extraordinary professor in the physical sciences who could take each student and help that young person discover the best version of themselves through nature.
Walter had planned his funeral and he expects his colleagues, students and Neumann friends to follow his wishes. It is to be a celebration of faith and gratitude to God for a life that helped his students discover God in nature. Like St. Francis of Assisi, my dear spiritual guide taught me to love God and all the beauty he has placed on this earth.
Lord, I pray for all my Sonshine Friends and especially, my spiritual mentor, who taught all his students to love one another as God loves each of us. May the Blessed Lord welcome our dear professor into His Heavenly Kingdom greeted by his parents and all his colleagues. Blessings and peace my friend. I miss you very much.