Reflections on loving God, being Catholic, being a woman, being ill, loving life and anything else that comes to mind.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

K Is For Keepsake

Sometimes, I miss my mother so much, I stared at my reflection in the mirror above the booth, my eyes rimmed with red, my face pinched, lips sere. I think what hurts the most is I don’t even have a picture of her. Her face feels so clear, sometimes. If only I had something to touch, the well spilled a few tears. Alethea handed me a tissue, How old were you when she died? Not quite five, my voice was a tiny whisper. I don’t even have the cross she gave me so I’d never be lost again. I’m so glad I have all my mother’s photos and keepsakes, Alethea stared off into space. Elizabeth spoke up, I’ve got my mother’s things but I never look at them. It’s hard to be reminded of the way she treated me. Alethea and I reached out and rested our hands on Elizabeth’s shoulder. Ah well, my sigh broke the silence after a long moment. Maybe we should talk about piety, study and action. Alethea smiled, It’s about that time.

Alethea, Elizabeth and I met each week for Ultreya, small weekly Cursillo community meetings. Amid secrecy and rules, that led up to the long weekend, I had made my Cursillo a year before them. On Thursday night, I sat in a confession/counseling session with a priest who told me, You’ve certainly been crucified in your life. He smiled as I solemnly nodded my head. But that doesn’t mean you should continue to crucify yourself, he told me gently. But how do I stop? Perhaps you’ll discover something this weekend that will help. By the procession on Sunday, I had tangible experience of the risen Lord through the love of the those who served on the Cursillo team and through strangers I’d probably never meet. I longed to immediately begin living the Fourth Day.

Elizabeth and Alethea had made their Cursillos together, I sponsoring Elizabeth. Both had had experiences similar to mine. And now, we met each week for coffee or dinner and discussed the ways in which we each lived out piety, study, and action in our day-to-day lives. You know what I’d like? I asked as we waited for the server to bring our cheque. I’d like to go on retreat, just the three of us. We could each give a meditation. It would be a lovely way to end the year.

O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and confidence shall be our strength: By the might of thy Spirit lift us, we pray, to your presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, page 832)
I find it so difficult to trust that. I always want to do things, to control them, to ensure all is going well. I paused to gather my thoughts. Alethea and Elizabeth, eyes staring into unseen depths, nodded in agreement. But the harder I try to save myself, the more I fail. I have no idea what God is doing with me. But I know, He knows what He is doing. For this year, I’d like to replace abject terror with confidence. At least, sometimes.

Let’s open presents, Elizabeth smiled cheerily, bouncing up from her chair to retrieve the small pile of gifts we had placed near the guesthouse Christmas tree. We oohed and awed over the books and simple jewelry we had chosen for one another. Perusing Julian Of Norwich’s, Showings, I didn’t notice Elizabeth standing before me, a small package in hand. This is for you, she told me, a big smile lit up her face. Oh! For me? But I’ll get an extra gift, I mutely told D’Abby. Thank you, I opened the box. An oval chunk of silver on a fine chain lay atop the cotton packing. Etched into the oval as if it were a smallsection of bas relief, the Blessed Virgin held the infant Jesus closely. Read the note, Elizabeth demanded. I lifted the small card and read softly, This medal is to remind you of your mother… my voice cracked, a few drops sloshed out of the well. …and the Eternal Mother… many drops fell on the cotton. As you gaze on it’s loveliness, remember that your mother loved you and did the very best she could for you. I crumpled, my head on my knees, the well flowed as I rocked myself. Alethea and Vera’s arms held me enhancing the warm tingling enclosure of D’Abby’s everlasting embrace.

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