Lessons from the River
What lesson can we get from the life of St. Joseph? Here’s a group of students who reflected on the life of St. Joseph during their recollection besides the river and asked their teacher, “Why do you just stand at the river’s edge for a longer time and stare at the water? What did you see there?”
He did not immediately answer. Nor did he look away from the continuously flowing stream. Finally he spoke up with, “Flowing water teaches us how to live:
“Wherever it flows it brings life and shares itself with everyone who needs it. A river is kind and generous.
“It knows how to level off the unevenness of the landscape. It is just and fair.
“It throws itself over cliffs into the depths of the valleys without even slowing down. It is courageous.
“Its surface is flat and smooth, but underneath it can hide churning current. A river is wise.
“It flows around rocks that hinder its progress. A river is tolerant.
“But at the same time it works day and night to get that hindrance out of its way. A river is tireless.
“No matter how many windings and detours it must make, it never loses sight of its goal: the sea. A river is single-minded.
“No matter how often it gets dirty, it keeps on trying to get clean again. A river is able to keep renewing itself.
“Those are my reasons for staring at the flowing river. It teaches me to live correctly.
Comparatively, St. Joseph is like a river we can learn at. When he faced difficult problems, he led his pregnant wife on a long journey to Bethlehem, found a place for her to have a baby and fled his family to Egypt. He did his duty, simply, faithfully, loyally, dependably. To that extent, Joseph speaks to everyone to us now: do what you can do to be caring, compassionate and helpful. Stay loyal and faithful to your beliefs and convictions. Do your duty. You make this world a better place.
St. Joseph was a dreamer. He dreamed of a savior Jesus and followed to the end. As such Joseph speaks to us who desperately dreams that things could be better. He reminds us to cherish and hold on to our dreams. Have faith. Look: Mary of Nazareth became a queen of heaven. Joseph, the dreamer eventually emerged from the shadows and the whole world now knows him as St. Joseph. So have faith in God. Remember Joseph. Cherish your dreams.
Joseph had swallowed his pride. He lost himself in obedience to the greater good, to God. He had struggle with doubts and desperately search for answers. He lost his wife to God. But again, he also knew that God would have the last word, that God in time could make loss the very conditions of compassion, service and growth. He knew that, although scars would remain, and grief would now and then openly assert itself, loss could be the seeding place of quiet greatness.
St. Joseph, our role model is a man for our seasons. Let St. Joseph’s steadfastness and example be yours.