I heard the sound of metal scrape concrete before I saw the small crucifix swept out from under the wire shelves. I have no idea how a crucifix made its way into the recesses of my garage, but I picked it up, sad that it had been lost and left in a dark corner for so long. There was a time when my family made twine rosaries for Rosary Army, so it could have fallen out of a back pack years ago. Well, God’s timing is never off.
I rubbed the crucifix clean against my shorts and put it in my pocket for later.
As I swept, I remembered that earlier this year I rescued a cross getting trampled by high school students when I was leaving work. It used to be I could find money on the ground, but apparently the new thing is finding crosses. I’m sure it’s no accident that these treasures inspired an afternoon of prayer.
Unlike the plain cross from before, this one, the San Damiano cross, survived its ordeal almost scratch-free. Its beautiful detail is familiar, as I own a full-color crucifix given to me years ago. My long association with the Franciscans came rushing to me this morning as I continued with my task of cleaning out the garage.
I was born in the beautiful city of Santa Clara in Cuba, a city named after St. Clare of Assisi. I can’t think of St. Clare without bringing to mind St. Francis of Assisi — together they co-founded the Franciscan tradition, a tradition I’m intimately connected to even though I didn’t know this until very recently. The values that have been passed along in my family most certainly come from this Franciscan legacy.
A deep faith, commitment to prayer, and perhaps most evident, a love for the poor coupled with servant-leadership seems to run deep in my family. I have a great uncle who was a Franciscan Friar in Spain, another great uncle who was a diocesan priest, and of course, my grandfather, Daniel, who led his community of Legazpia as its mayor.
My grandparents were surrounded by Franciscans. Capuchin Franciscans served their community in Santa Clara, so much so, that my grandmother joined the Third Order of St. Francis. I discovered this on my trip to Cuba last fall, where I not only reconnected with family, but reconnected with places that were meaningful to my grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. The church where I was baptized, closed by the communist state, lost the Capuchins serving there. Fifty years later, the church has re-opened with a Capuchin Franciscan assigned as pastor. Other Franciscans have returned to the area as missionaries.
Service to the poor and the community has been a tradition in our immediate family, too, and I now recognize where the sensibility for this came.
Recently, my husband came home from running errands and placed a small statue of St. Francis on my desk. I appreciated the gesture, but looked at him quizzically — I’ve never had any kind of devotion to St. Francis that would warrant such a gift. My husband shrugged and explained that he saw the statue and thought I’d like it. At any rate, it seemed odd and out of place to have the saint lying in a pile of discards in a discount store.
I’ve often said that the saints seem to creep up behind me and chase me around until I pay attention to them. Maybe St. Francis is trying to get my attention. It wouldn’t surprise me, I mean, this past year I seem to have been surrounded by his followers. What must he want from me, I wonder.
St. Francis taught we must take up Christ’s cross daily. I have done this twice, literally, and I don’t think I need to find a third cross to get the message. But what cross am I taking up? I already have crosses to bear– some entirely mine, and some that I share. I don’t think my answer is in any of those.
While praying before the San Damiano cross, St. Francis heard the call to rebuild the Church. I wonder if I’m being called to the same, in some small way, through evangelization. I love Jesus. I want others to love Jesus, too. Maybe he’s calling me to something new.Read More
The cheaters way to 3,000 words 😉
and a Bonus! because who doesn’t love their Momma?
I wasn’t going to do this. I had no intention of one last blog post from this house — this home of 20 years. But it just got real, folks, as I was walking around deciding what I would take in the car, and what would stay until we figure out just how much (or little) room we will have in the new place.
So many details. How often are we caught up in the minutiae and never do anything? I know that has been my distraction and downfall. Now, though, it seems like the minutiae is more than insignificant details. No — they are in fact quite significant.
I’m walking from room to room taking a mental inventory, not just of items to throw away or take, or a monumental to-do list of painting and repairs, but of the silliness and joy behind those things.
Only recently did I learn the full scope of the science experiments conducted by the kids in the jack-and-jill bathroom between the girls’ and boy’s room. Great. I would have killed them dead had I known. Now I laugh, and laugh with them as they confess. It also explains the state of the sink.
The scratches in the hallway from the dog running in place unable to get purchase.
The uneven air-conditioning that makes our bedroom a sauna and the rest of the house a meat-locker. It’s bad when guests refer to it as the arctic zone.
The view from the living room into a welcoming and soothing back yard.
The honeysuckles. And roses. And blueberries. And strawberries. And lightning bugs.
I sat in Adoration last night, thinking of all these things and what I would miss, and felt suddenly so very lonely and apprehensive about the move. I’m leaving everything I’ve known for 20 years, exchanging it all for a different view, a different house with memories not yet made.
I looked upon the altar in the chapel one last time, too.
Everything I settled my gaze upon would be replaced with something new. Except the One thing that never changes. He is here. He is there. And suddenly it was all ok. I won’t be going into the unknown at all.
I went to the Braves game with these two, Sarah and Fr. Kyle, which means a little bit of baseball, and a lot of talking and cutting up. The game was incidental, in spite of the friendly rivalry between the Braves fans, Sarah and me — and Fr Kyle in his Cincinnati Reds get-up. I tweeted Braves vs. Cubs for about 4 innings. He didn’t notice. I didn’t notice.
It was definitely a social evening spiced up by the occasional exciting play. I guess baseball goes that way. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Double! Nothing. Home run! Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Double play! Nothing.
And then the ride home.
I was sprawled in the back seat, listening to their chatter up front when I recognized the vanity plate on the car next to us. “Roll down the window!”
Sarah refused, thinking I was engaging with a stranger. Just two days ago I shocked her by asking the guy in front of us in the ice cream line if I could take his picture. It was true, he was a doppleganger for a mutual friend of ours, but mostly, I was doing it because she was mortified. I get it — she was done with my shenanigans.
This guy driving the car is a former colleague. Really. I convinced her to roll down the window in time for me to call his name.
He turned around, processed who I was, and shouted back happily, “My mom read your book!”
Full disclosure: as an author, it’s both gratifying and humbling when people read your book. Some people like it and tell you. Some don’t like it, and aren’t shy about telling you. LOL. That second one. It keeps me humble.
But there’s nothing like friends to keep you humble. The evening started with a crack about my mom pants. And it ended with a crack about writing books for moms. True on both counts. I love my friends, y’all. I really do.
I’m sipping some tea late into the night. It was hot at the baseball game, and even though we were having fun, it was hot. So now, after a shower, I don’t feel like going to sleep, but I don’t want to watch any more news, either. Tomorrow I’ll catch up. Tonight, I think I’ll just sit in the half light, drink my tea before it gets cold, and pray. The world needs prayer. And love. So much love.
I like the technique proposed by Pope Francis, to use your hand as a guide for prayer:
1. Thumb: This is closest to you, so pray for your dear ones, your family, your friends.
2. Index finger. We point with this finger – pray for teachers, the people who guide you, law enforcement and emergency responders. They need God’s guidance, too, to do their work.
3. The middle finger. Sometimes we use it in a not-so-nice-manner. It’s the tallest finger, so pray for our leaders. The world is a mess. Policies are a mess. People are a mess. We need good leaders to help us. To make this world a better place for everyone.
4. The ring finger. Associated with marriage and love. It’s also the weakest finger. Pray for the weak. The marginalized. The misunderstood. We are all God’s children. We are all worthy of love.
5. The pinkie. This is the smallest finger, and reminds you to pray for yourself. Putting ourselves last in this prayer strategy doesn’t mean we dismiss ourselves — it helps us order our needs after thinking broadly about our relationships.