'Do Not Deprive Yourself Of The Day's Enjoyment'
In paragraph No. 4 of “Evangelii Gaudium,” his apostolic exhortation on the joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis recalls Sirach 14: 11, 14: “My child, treat yourself well, according to your means … Do not deprive yourself of the day’s enjoyment.”
Lots of little things comprise “the day’s enjoyment” for me. Through them, I feel God’s presence, love and mercy. I hope and pray it’s that way for you, too.
Here are some examples of my little things. I don’t get to experience some of them as often as I’d like – but all of them reflect Sirach’s words in my life.
- Standing knee-deep in a trout stream – preferably Slatyfork. That’s the name given to the very headwaters of West Virginia’s Elk River. It comes to life in Pocahontas County, W.Va., and is my favorite trout stream in the whole world. Know, however, that any trout stream will do. God’s love and mercy wash over and around me in all of their cool waters.
- Experiencing the very beginning of a new day on the shores of Nevada’s Lake Meade. When I worked for Tracker Boats, I traveled there one Memorial Day weekend for a bass tournament my employer co-sponsored. I arrived at the tournament-headquarters marina for the start of the first fishing day more than an hour before sunrise. God rewarded me with the chance to be part of night surrendering to first light, then dawn, in the desert southwest. I have experienced many sunrises in many different places; none are like Lake Meade’s beauty.
Others come to mind from my love of star-gazing:
- Seeing Saturn’s rings with my own eyes – in my own yard. Years ago, when an online retailer deeply discounted a telescope powerful enough to get a really good view of Saturn’s rings – as in 2/3 off retail – I ordered. The morning after it arrived, I got up before 5 a.m. – when I didn’t need to get up for any reason; it wasn’t a work day – because I had waited more than 50 years to see those rings with my own eyes. That moment reduced me to tears of joy and thanksgiving to God.
- Finding the Andromeda Galaxy with binoculars. It’s not terribly tough, and I thank God that Evansville provides night skies far darker than any I had easy access to for more than a decade. Seven- or eight-power binoculars are strong enough to see Andromeda, which admittedly looks just like a smudge of gray without more magnification. If you ever take the time to find it – as you’re gazing at that smudge, which will fit easily in your binoculars’ field of vision – think about this: Andromeda is 100,000 light years across. In other words, its length/diameter is the distance equivalent to the distance light will travel in 100,000 years at roughly 186,000 miles per second.
I don’t own a calculator capable of generating a number that large.
- Using the same “discount” telescope mentioned above to separate the four stars contained within the Orion Nebula, which will be viewable again soon in our fall night skies. Those stars are ONLY 1,400 light years from Earth.
I’ve saved the best, however, for last.
- Texting or talking to Jenny, my daughter, just about every day. She turned 28 on July 20, and I thank God daily for blessing me with so much time with her.
I’ve written in this space before that Dad was an underground coal miner in Southwestern Pa., and 37 years underground literally killed him. I was 14 when he died – so seeing Jenny turn 28 was the most special little thing God has blessed me with to date.
I hope you’ll take Sirach’s advice – today and every day: “My child, treat yourself well, according to your means … Do not deprive yourself of the day’s enjoyment.”