Love Is In The Details

  • Nov 12, 2017 -
  • Tom Neal PhD
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Growing up, my grandmother used to make the most amazing meals for my family when we’d visit.  I recall always feeling elated when I heard rumor that we were going to her house yet again.  Her meals were always complex events with many courses, fancy dishes, course-specific utensils and detailed rules of etiquette.  This was a daunting challenge for a young child, but my investment in labor and learning was amply rewarded!

I recall one time – I was probably eleven or twelve – I was quickly and hungrily scarfing down her famous chicken noodle soup while my parents were talking with her.  Suddenly, she broke the adult conversation and rebuked me sharply. “Tommy,” she said, “Slow down and enjoy your food!  Don’t you know how much love went into this meal?”  I felt duly shamed, but I also remember looking sheepishly around her table and admiring it.  It really was a work of art, with exquisite attention to detail.  And love, as she’d always say, is in the details.  And unlike the meals I ate in my college days – like those cold pizza slices eaten while walking out of my apartment on the way to class – her meals made me feel more human.  They made me feel loved.

To me, the genius of Five Wishes, especially Wishes 3-5, is its attention to detail.  I would want my wife, or my father, massaged by warm oils, surrounded by family or having their favorite music played as they die.  I would want them surrounded by a thousand details that say, “You are loved.”

Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said, “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”  Even if I, or my loved ones, have to be surrounded by the machinery of medicine at life’s most vulnerable hour, I want them to also be surrounded by signs of care and affection, by signs of faith and joy, by the good memories that bring comfort at the end.  Five Wishes helps you express that in your own words.

Psalm 23 says that God “prepares a table,” even as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Let’s give God some help and help set that table for those we love.  Maybe even include some chicken noodle soup!

Tom Neal, PhD is Academic Dean and professor of Spiritual Theology at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, Louisiana and author of the popular blog Neal Obstat.