Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Ohio, Kentucky...nuns, nuns, and baseball (Part one)

Our pastor, and many other people, like to say "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." I was working hard, carving out our itinerary, picking Holy Doors and hotels...I was packed and ready to begin our adventure. I've learned, from this pilgrimage gig, that you should have a "theory" about where and when you want to travel then let God give direction (I've taken to calling it "God's Positioning System" or GPS of course). After all, He will take you to the places you need to go.

So, after finding out that my dear friend lost her baby brother, just 44 years old, I knew we would wait to find out the funeral information and go from there. Thursday morning we left at 8 AM, as planned, but instead of heading to Columbus to see a few Holy Doors, we headed to Cleveland to support our friend and pray for the living and the dead. (See? GPS has you covered...)

The funeral was held at Mary, Queen of the Apostles . When we walked into the foyer, there was a most beautiful icon of Our Lady with the Apostles Icons surrounding her

Like this with "Brady Bunch" style Apostles all around

It struck me then how blessed we were to begin our journey here. We had just celebrated Christ's Ascension into heaven and we, like the Blessed Mother and Apostles, would now wait until Pentecost for the Holy Spirit to descend upon us. How perfect that we would gather to celebrate the life of a friend and brother before sending him on to his eternal reward.

As we sat to wait for the funeral to begin, five or six older nuns filed into the pew in front of us. The last, an elderly woman in a veil, stopped to remark on our "lovely family". During the sign of peace, it would be this lovely woman who would turn to us and individually hug each one. Sharing the community of the Mass is a gift at any time but to have someone go out of their way to show the love of Christ is a blessing unexpected and so welcome.

When we are taken on detours, it's most often for some type of deeper insight. Yes, we were there to support and pray for our friend and her family, yes it was a wonderful experience for all of us to have some extra "nun love" on the journey, this day, however, it was the homily.

Father spoke a while about the deceased, his family, and his kindness toward the world around him. Father also talked about the reason we gather to have a funeral Mass and bury our dead...because we as Catholics know this is not the end. He then spoke about a painting in the Cleveland museum of art of a ship on the horizon. He read a poem by Henry Van Dyke that is found beside the painting.

Gone From My Sight

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says, "There, she is gone."

Gone where?

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me -- not in her.

And, just at the moment when someone says, "There, she is gone,"
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!"

And that is dying...

Father then beautifully related this to the process of Catholics as they live through the death of a loved one. We see them go, they "vanish" from us, and we feel loss. However, there are all of those who have waited for them with great love and anticipation that joyfully cheer, "here he comes!" finally, home.

Whew. I looked up and my dear, DH, who I've seen cry only a handful of times, had tears running down. I know he was thinking what I was...all those who will be cheering for us when we cross this veil and see them once again at home, for eternity. Whew. What a deep grateful joy to begin our journey.

GPS. Let it take you off course sometimes. It's definitely worth the extra trip!

So, we only made it to the first leg of the first day but see how chock full of good stuff ? Stay tuned...more soon, I promise :0)

We are blessed.

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