Doug married a woman whom he knew for only a short while, but they claimed they were madly in love. Within the first months of the marriage, she became pregnant and wanted to move to Texas. Doug was against the move, they had no family or friends there, but Michelle insisted and so Doug transferred with his company, and they moved to Dallas. Two months after their baby Sam was born, Doug returned home from work and found the entire house cleared out of furniture and all of Michelle’s personal belongings.
There was a note taped to the fridge that simply said, “I can’t do this anymore. I don’t love you, please take care of Sam. Michelle.” Doug was distraught, angry, frustrated and confused – all at the same time. But he needed to pick up little Sam from daycare, so he threw the note on the floor and left the house.
Doug called me later that night, and in tears, told me what happened. His whole life had changed in one day, and he had no idea what to do for the next hour, much less the next day or week. We spoke for a long time and while we were talking, I remembered a quote from St. Francis who said: “Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible, and suddenly you will be doing the impossible!
Doug said – “You mean like the Impossible Dream?!” I said, “EXACTLY! If you can dream it, you can make it happen!”
To my surprise Doug began singing that magnificent song:
Over the next four years, Doug made some amazing changes in his and Sam’s life. He began by doing what St. Francis said to do – first the necessary things in his daily life: taking care of Sam, working, and maintaining the house. Then, after some time, he did the possible, and he and Sam moved back to the Northeast where Doug had family. After a while, Doug began doing what he had thought at one time would be impossible: he raised Sam, worked hard, and made a good life for them both.
He received a telephone call from Michelle. She needed his help. The wife and mother who had abandoned them almost 7 years ago, needed their help.
Michelle had been diagnosed with breast cancer and would be undergoing intense chemotherapy and radiation. She needed someone to take her for her treatments and to care for her. Her prognosis was very bad and, at best, the treatments would probably only give her three months to live.
So now, she also wanted a relationship with her son. She was asking Doug to help her and to let her move in with them. One of the verses from the song came back to him as Doug struggled with his decision.
Everyone he spoke to from his doctor to his priest told him not to do it. “You and Sam have worked so hard to heal from her horrible leaving, and now she wants to come back into your lives?”
Everyone said no.
But Doug said yes.
The quote from St. Francis had helped Doug get through so much, and now he felt that he needed to apply the quote to Michelle. He started by doing the necessary and took her in. Then, he did what was possible and cared for her. Suddenly he was doing the impossible: caring for her until she went home to God. Doug prayed to St. Francis to give him and Sam the strength and courage they needed to welcome Michelle back into their home.
Michelle died two months later, with her newfound son Sam on one side and Doug on the other. For Doug, the last verse had become the most important to him.
At Michelle’s funeral Mass, there was one song everyone sang with tears in their eyes –
“The Impossible Dream”
This quote of St. Francis, “Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible, and suddenly you will be doing the impossible,” is one way that we cannot simply survive a crisis but thrive because of a trial in life. Doug found his sense of true Gospel love like St. Francis and, because of that, was able to perform a charitable task that everyone told him to stay away from. He reconciled and cared for a person seeking forgiveness who had made his life hell, and, like St. Francis, he gave not only his forgiveness but also his blessing.
As you join the Franciscan Friars in the Great Novena to St. Francis, bring all the struggles and trials you have in your life –
• children or grandchildren who have fallen away from the church,
• illness suffered by you or family or friends,
• job or economic problems
• the personal struggles each of us deal with every day
Listen to St. Francis, and hear his advice filled with comfort and care. Break down the struggles you have into small pieces and confront them the way St. Francis did. Ask St. Francis to hear your prayers and to bring them to God, Most High to pray for you and all the help you need. Please, join the Friars in our nine days of prayer to the Saint who brings so much love and life to the Church and to all who call on him.