Thursday, December 23, 2010

Living is Giving: An Advent Coincidence

Back in 1990 I began teaching at St. Vincent Ferrer School in Brooklyn.  That year, the Friday before Advent, the school principal had asked, actually mandated, that all teachers have an Advent wreath in their classrooms that Monday. It seemed that the other teachers had theirs from previous years. Unfortunately, I didn't have one. I had looked in various stores that Saturday, with no success.  I was almost resigned to being the only teacher without an Advent wreath when I received a phone call from a friend of mine from Queens.  

Victor is an older gentleman whom I had met doing volunteer work, and we became friends.  (An aside coincidence is that in 1988 when I first met him, he mentioned that he wrote a Christmas Song called "There's a Star Shining Bright" and asked me if I knew anyone who had a recording studio. He had a friend, Christopher, who was a singer with a beautiful voice, and they wanted to make a recording.  How many people know someone who has a recording studio!  Well, my brother is in the music business, has a recording studio, and he recorded the song.)  

It must have been about 9 PM that night when the phone rang. After speaking a while, I mentioned to Victor my disappointment that I couldn't find an Advent wreath for class, and he said that he had just received one in the mail as a free gift along with some Christmas cards from a religious organization.  He said it was small, made of brass and had three little purple candles and one pink or rose-colored candle.  He said that maybe it was providential that one had been sent to him, that I was welcome to it, and that he would be happy to come right over with the wreath.  This is a very kind friend, one who has always gone out of his way to help other people, someone who lives his faith and has always been an inspiration to me.  He often would say, "Living is giving."  Yet, I didn't want to impose upon him.  I told him how much I appreciated his kind offer, but that it was late and I felt bad about his making a trip into Brooklyn on a Sunday night when I knew from his conversation that he was tired and wanted to relax for the evening. When I protested, he said that Christ said (John 15:13) that greater love has no man than to give his life for his friends. I did not understand the point he was making, until he went on to explain: "Life is made up of time.  When you give your time, you are, in essence, giving your life, as Christ said."   

When I hear this scripture read at Mass or when I see an Advent wreath, I am reminded that there are numerous opportunities to give my life for my friends.  Living is giving.

Happy 86th Birthday, Victor!

Joan Virzera

January 13, 2012
My friend Victor Zino passed away.  Requiscat in pace.

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