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Commentary on this feast of St. Barnabas got me thinking today about connections. The Franciscan Media website tells us that Barnabas was “a Jew of Cyprus, as close as anyone outside the Twelve to being a full-fledged apostle.” A close associate of St. Paul, he was the one who introduced Paul to Peter and had a major role in mediating between Paul and the Jewish Christians.

Many, if not most of the people who come to the Spiritual Center in Windsor, come because of a recommendation from a friend. Often, they find a “spiritual home” here and come back eagerly the next summer to see those like-minded people with whom they continue to grow together as they are nurtured in their spiritual development. I see the same happening at the Sophia Center in the many gatherings that draw individuals of varied backgrounds. They come, perhaps, for something that sounds interesting and come back because of the people they they find in the encounter. Some relationships are instantaneous; some grow with time. Occasionally we only see a person once or twice and wonder why we miss their presence, wishing they would return.

I’ve often heard that people are in our lives for a purpose and I believe that to be true. Whether for a “chance” encounter or a lifetime relationship, the connection can be significant, even life-changing sometimes.Today’s commentary notes that in the early Church “all was not peaceful…and even the best of friends can have differences.” Surrender is a facet of any mature relationship and sometimes binds people together in ways that nothing else can.

These musings lead me to a theme for my day which will include at least three opportunities to be grateful for the people in my life – stalwart friends as well as those I do not yet know well. In between I will bless those who have taught me life lessons and have passed from this world. My gratitude list will surely be long at the end of the day…