A tale of two extremes
By Mila Glodava
Yin and yang. Light and darkness. Night and day. Black and white. Glory and pain. Opposites, yes. Yet, one is not complete without the other. Yin is not completely black, nor yang completely white. We can't appreciate the light without the darkness. No pain, no gain. And I can attest to these truths all of my 62 years of existence. Recently, however, in a week's time, I experienced both glory and pain.
Two weeks ago, before more than 1,100 participants from all over the world at the annual International Catholic Stewardship Council (ICSC) conference in Miami, Florida, St. Thomas More Parish received the 2007 Archbishop Murphy Memorial Award. As director of communications and stewardship, I joined our pastor, Father Andrew Kemberling, and two members of the Stewardship Commission -- Phil and Irene Lindemer -- in accepting the award. Indeed, St. Thomas More has been exemplary in that regard, promoting the stewardship lifestyle in the parish and beyond, including the entire Philippine Church. The award, in memory of an ardent and passionate supporter of ICSC and Christian stewardship – a life of thanksgiving for God’s blessings.
In photo, l-r: Phil and Irene Lindemer, Father Andrew, Jim Kelley, ICSC president, and Mila Glodava
This was only the third time I've attended this annual conference. And modesty aside, each time we've participated, we received an award or two. In fact, this year's award was our fourth. Honestly though, I've come to enjoy meeting the thousands of practitioners of stewardship as a way of life, and to learn many new ideas to enhance my own ministry to the Church at St. Thomas More.
Indeed, it was an honor to be recognized by our peers for our service to the Church and to know that the STM stewardship model is one that other parishes would want to emulate. I am personally grateful for this award too, because I helped create and develop the STM stewardship model, along with Father Andrew and the Stewardship Commission. In fact, when I first started it in 1989, I did not know much about stewardship. Not only was it not part of my vocabulary, I also did not live it my self at the time to convince others to make it a way of life. In good time, however, I can honestly say I had my own conversion to this way of life and now have the conviction to promote the stewardship lifestyles to others. And yes, St. Thomas More is truly on its way to becoming a total stewardship parish. We are honored and humbled, indeed, to receive the award.
As an awardee and therefore, a model parish, St. Thomas More Parish, after receiving the award, also had to participate in the Parish Fair and we had to present a workshop on how we implement stewardship as a way of life in the parish -- all scheduled in one afternoon.
Yet, I almost did not make it to this annual gathering of Catholic stewards. The day before I was to fly to Miami, I was at another stewardship conference, with Cardinal Francis Arinze from the Vatican. As co-chair of said conference, I helped organize it for almost one year. In addition I was scheduled to present a workshop. I was anxious to see its successful end.
It was not meant to be, however. The moment I entered the registration hall, I was already feeling sick and could not move around much. I never even met the Cardinal because I was in and out of the conference hall. Luckily, my doctor and friend, Amy Ashmann, was at the conference (what a blessing indeed), and she took care of me the entire time. Between visits to the restroom and some chairs on which to lie down, I managed to make it to my talk, and actually finished it, but sitting down and holding my head as I answered questions during Q&A. As soon as every one left, all I wanted to do was collapse on the floor. I was in excruciating pain and did not know what to do any more.
One of the attendees of my workshop, Donna Paladino, was my angel -- holding my hand or a wet napkin on my forehead, or propping my legs up to help me ease the pain. In the end, she called an ambulance when my pain became too unbearable. At the same time, my staff called my husband Mark to let him know of my ordeal.
When the paramedics arrived, they started poking on my hands and arms to find the ever elusive vain. And they couldn't detect any blood pressure either. Sensing their frustration, I asked, "Am I dying?" "No, honey, you're not,” one answered. “You’re just too dehydrated. But don't worry. We'll take care of you." And indeed, they took care of me, until finally they found one tiny vain to push through the IV and relieve me of my pain and dehydration. Six hours of more needles, specimen lab tests and CT scan found one hardly visible kidney stone about the size of a grain of rice. It's unbelievable that that tiny spec in the body could cause so much pain. Remember the saying, “If one little finger hurts, the entire body hurts.” Well it really is worse than a finger hurting. And “It’s worse than having a baby,” says Cathi Politano, my Denver conference co-chair. At least, she said, there's a little one to cuddle after the labor pains.
The medication in the IV, though, gave me enough relief that the doctor discharged me as soon as he gave me prescriptions and instructions on what I needed to do. And he said, if I can take the pain, I could even fly to Miami the next day. And the rest as they say is history.
There's poem, written anonymously, that I read recently that seems to express what I feel about my "glory and pain."
The road of life was bright.
It stretched before my sight.
The Lord was at my side.
to be my friend and guide.
And so I started out.
But then the sky grew dark
and the road grew steep and stark
Rocks and ruts cut my feet.
My legs grew sore and weak.
I scarce could travel on.
I tried and cried, "My Lord!
Why this pain; why this plight?
Why these ruts; why these rocks?
Why this darkness? Where's the light?
I cannot carry on."
The Lord replied, "My child!
Why this fear; why this fright?
Where's your faith: Where's your trust?
Love chose this road for you.
Just trust and travel on."