Ron, a 69 year-old rancher from my former parish in Stephan, died after a long and painful battle with cancer. He died in the same house he grew up and lived all his life. He knew the cancer was terminal. When I talked to him a few weeks ago, he had come to a sense of peace and acceptance about that.
Ron knew a lot about many things; but, what I admired most was that instead of pontificating about what he believed, he asked, “What do you think about . . . ?” He was anxious to learn, and because of that, he had a lot of wisdom.
I spent the day helping with the funeral. Afterward, at the luncheon, I heard family and friends telling the stories of how he will be remembered. One of his sons recalled how Ron would give them a ranch chore and then pressure them to get done by a deadline; however, he wouldn’t tell them HOW they had to do it. Many of their days were spent experimenting with homemade gadgets that sometimes worked great; other times leaving them working late to make up for their mistakes. In allowing them to try different things, they learned.
The freedom to grow
I think God is like that too. We all have a broad outline of what we have to do – love God and our neighbor – but we each have to find unique ways to do that. In giving us freedom, God allows us to make mistakes … and hopes that we can learn from them.