Truly Blessed

ALS patient James Martin shares his journey.

I Know Not What Tomorrow May Bring

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James Martin
Monday, November 5, 2012

Every year, our Tri-Parish Life Teen program does a fall service project called Cold Hands Warm Heart. The high school teens solicit donations for sleeping in cardboard boxes on a cold fall night. All of the money goes to our local homeless shelter. Each teen must raise a minimum of fifty dollars to participate. Our final total is yet undetermined, but the preliminary total exceeds $18,000.00.

The night began with the construction of our cardboard village and then we shared a "soup kitchen" dinner with soup, pieces of bread and water to drink. A barrel fire was lit for some warmth and the teens occupied themselves, sans electronics, and tried to ward off the dropping temperature. Later we celebrated Mass and had some programs on poverty, homelessness, and our Gospel obligation to help our neighbors. Later that night, the teens crawled into their boxes and tried to sleep as adults tended the fire for heat and maintained a watchful eye on the cardboard village. (This year I was physically unable to stay the night.)

During this project the teens were able to experience life without the creature comforts we all take for granted.

Five days prior to Cold Hands Warm Heart a hurricane ravaged New York and New Jersey along with much of the East Coast. Millions lost power, hundreds of thousands had property damaged, tens of thousands lost their homes, thousands of kids lost their schools, hundreds are missing, and over a hundred perished. Some were prepared, most were not, and to varying degrees the people within the storm had their lives turned upside down.

These two events this past week have helped me to realize how blessed my life is. I have a fantastic family and have more creature comforts than I deserve. I am fortunate in that I want for nothing. I am most fortunate in that I live in a country of infinite possibility and opportunity.

So I offer you this lesson from my week: make time today to carefully reflect on that which you take for granted, for you do not know what tomorrow brings.

Last updated: 10:46 am Wednesday, August 28, 2013

James Martin is a former attorney and graduate of Gonzaga University and Marquette Law School. He lives in Spring Prairie near Burlington. He has been diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. He is married with 6 kids. James is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. His opinion is not necessarily that of the Gazette staff or management.

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