As-Dad-Sees-It-PirilloOver the last few months we’ve been boxing up everything in our home. The clothes from the closets have been cleared out save for the essentials. All of the many books that filled our bookshelves have been put away. All of the children’s toys in the garage have been packed away.

Three-year-old Abigail’s plastic kitchen set that sat in her room and was a great source of joy is now sitting in a remote storage site over an hour away. Last week, when the sun came out, Joseph, 9, asked for his baseball glove. When he learned it was in storage, he let out a loud sigh and grumbled as he walked away.

Knowing you’re going to be moving in 30 days but unaware where you’ll be living is a bit unnerving. It’s one thing if you’re young or single, but being a parent and uprooting your whole family is another animal entirely — especially when your current home has been a source of so many blessings

We live in a wonderful little town, where the kids all learned to ice skate on the mill pond.

Last weekend, I counted nine neighbor kids on the slide in the backyard at the same time.

The younger kids split off and gave each other wagon rides down the sidewalk.

At the end of October, after much prayer and discernment, I took a job an hour away. It was a big change, but Teresa and I prayed together, before the Blessed Sacrament, and with our family. We made the choice and afterward the refrain was, “He’s always taken care of us.”

Of course, he has. He’s our Good Shepherd and there is nothing we shall lack. That doesn’t mean life will be a cakewalk.

After all, that Good Shepherd also advised his followers to pick up their crosses and follow him if they desired to be his disciples. But that Shepherd will be, as Pope Francis said recently, our guide, teacher, friend, model, and Savior.

“My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” When Jesus told this to his followers, he was inside the temple in Jerusalem. It was the month of Kislev, during the feast of the dedication. Given that it was undoubtedly a winter day, it made sense he was speaking within the long colonnade, “Solomon’s Portico.” He spoke about the sacred sheepfold: that rocky, protective enclosure which housed the sheep, sometimes built into the hillside to protect them from the elements.

As Pope Francis mentioned in a recent address, we can imagine how the context of the surroundings must have given life to his words. His followers were within a stone enclosure built into the hill, protected from the winter chill, hanging on every word their master was giving them.

They were truly sheep within a sheepfold, listening to their Shepherd.

So, we as disciples seek to hear his voice, we seek the solitude necessary to sit in silence, and in prayer, asking that his will be done.

And he always takes care of us.

Three days ago, I was having lunch with a friend, sharing how uncertain the immediate future seemed.

There weren’t many homes on the market that fit our family’s needs. We put an offer on one that seemed to be a good fit, but another offer had come in at the same time and won out. I told him that if we couldn’t find a home within one week, we’d need to figure something out.

But there were a few problems with this scenario. If we were going to rent, we’d need something month to month, which isn’t an easy thing to find, especially with four kids and a cat. Then, we’d need something large enough to accommodate our family. Also, it would ideally need to be within 20 or 30 minutes of work and it most definitely needed to be within our price range.

This was a tall order and as this scenario swirled quietly in my mind, the resolution seemed that much more improbable.

The theme of the lunch concluded around the need to have trust in the Lord and relegate despair to the dustbin. We also talked about the powerful effect of seeing good fortune in life as blessings and not merely strokes of cosmic luck. We have a Shepherd and he is good.

As I returned to check my email some 20 minutes later, there was a note from Teresa. It was titled, “Good News.”

Temporary rental house for us….

18 minutes for you to get to work.

15 minutes to family.

Renovated farmhouse,

4 bedrooms.

Month to month.

Within our budget

A family member had received a phone call from someone with the house in need of a family to rent month to month. They were convinced it was improbable. So were we.

But our Good Shepherd smiles at improbabilities. In 30 days, we’ll be leaving and now we know where we’ll be: within the sheepfold, protected from the elements, and able to do our laundry.

(Joe is married to Teresa. They have four children and opportunities for heavenly-inspired humor abound. Joe, an academic librarian and Teresa, a physical therapist, are currently parishioners at St. John the Baptist, Plymouth. However, they will be moving soon to the Fox Valley area to be closer to work and family.)