A Brotherly Presence

brothersFrom earliest memory, I had always wanted an older brother. Every weekend starting in the first grade, I would go to my friend Andy’s house and we would play in the woods, skateboard, and shoot each other with nerf guns.

Andy was a great friend and he had an older brother that I idolized as the man I always wanted. He would wrestle us (beat on us really), tell us jokes and listen to U2 and the Police, and he taught me how to ride a skateboard.

I loved every minute of being at that house, and when ever I returned home, I would joyfully tell my parents about how much I wished I had an older brother! Believe it or not I used to tell my parents this often until I graduated from college. It always seemed to me that this drive in my heart, which was so specific, was also constantly present to me.

Shortly after graduating from college (doing what all good college graduates do) and moving in with my parents, something happened. My family was in the process of a real conversion of faith.

One afternoon my mother sat me down at the kitchen table with tears in her eyes. I knew something life changing was about to be said, but I could never have guessed what was about to be disclosed to me. My mother told me that indeed I had once had an older brother! In disbelief and shock and feeling all the loss in my heart, I burst into tears.

She began to tell me the sad story of her and my father’s unexpected pregnancy at nearly 20 years of age, and how they were forced to abort the child by their parents. She was far enough along to have known her child was a boy and she spoke of how she desired to have run away to hide and have the baby. She was filled with fear of what my reaction would be, and honestly, it was difficult. Suddenly my whole life was beginning to make sense. Every desire, and sadness. I had actually felt his loss in my heart throughout the course of my life.

Of course, I forgave my mom and dad, but a wound has remained. I have wept for the loss of my brother and longed to see his face but through a gift of God, this brother of mine has become close. I know now that in those moments in my life when I desired a brother so desperately, he was then, at that moment, near to me. I speak to him often now and I know him to be a constant faithful companion.

Remarkably, Our Lord has also given another gift. Several years later He began to call me to religious life and now I experience the literal “hundred fold’ that Christ speaks of in the Gospels. In my community of Franciscan Friars, I literally have one hundred and twenty brothers!

Christ is the wounded healer and He shows us that precisely through our wounds is the path of His deepest and most lasting healing. That grace and life are far greater than all that we have lost through sin and He asks only one thing from us, “let yourselves be loved.” ~Michael

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