24 May 2007

Open Eyes, Engage Brain...

...and perhaps you won't have a day like I did today. *rolls eyes*

Boy was I dumb last night... I was so tired that I accidentally set my alarm clock one hour ahead time-wise, then set the alarm for 4:15 AM... I got up, got dressed, went downstairs wondering if I'd had a power failure because I couldn't smell coffee.... The microwave clock, the clock on the stove, and the coffee maker all said it was 3:30 AM!!! No sense in going back to bed... so I made my coffee and drove to my day job. *zzzzzzzzzzzzzz* Normally I like my day job. Plenty of chances for ministry. But boy, I could not wait until 8 hours had been accomplished! I hope I can be coherent tonight...

I have recently moved to a new town, far away from the previous one, because my husband and I have split up after 28+ years of marriage. LONG story... the bottom line though is that I am settling down little by little, unpacking boxes, preparing for the visit of two dear friends early next month. (Nothing like a deadline to get me in gear!) Coming home is now a peaceful thing, and I know that any messes I see will be of my own making. THAT I can deal with. :-) But the split itself, though far less painful than I feared it would be, has still been fraught with sorrow and grief. It has been coming on for many a year; I daresay lots of my friends were convinced it would never happen at all. So was I. I would do it again if need be--but it has been like a death, and it hurts like a grief, and like a grief I laugh almost as often as I weep.

But there is grief, and there is grief. Tonight would have been--and still is!--the wedding anniversary of my friends Alex and David. They have been parted as well, but by the Ultimate Lover, Death. We were all stunned earlier this year when Rebbe David, only in his 40s and recovering so well from a heart attack, suffered another and went home to dance in a different field for a while. At the time of his passing all I could summon the strength to do was weep. It seemed so incredibly unfair! They were so much in love... so perfectly right for each other. Imagine an Independent Catholic Priest (Alex, a delightful woman with a quirky sense of humour and much music in her soul) and a Rabbi (David, also delightful, quirkily humourous, musical...) married to one another--and in many cases ministering in tandem harness, to the same folks and friends. It was the perfect partnership. But then David's time came, all too soon... and now Alex soldiers on alone. As anyone can tell you who has loved and lost, it just isn't the same thing to remind oneself that the parting is not forever... my usual answer (most of the time silently in a broken heart) to such a comment is a weak smile and an internal gut-wrenching scream of "But it feels like forever right NOW!"

The good news is, God gets that. Jesus made it possible for Him to get that.

The bad news is, it still hurts. But even there, good news abounds: pain, after all, is one of the quickest ways to know you are alive (though I most sincerely do NOT recommend it as a touchstone, unless you're living with chronic pain--and then it is sacramental...). You cannot feel, be it pain or pleasure, if you are no longer living.

When I limped home tonight, alone and lonely, tired (okay, exhausted!) and worn down from the day, I was hoping something would help me feel... something. Hopefully something good. When I fetched the mail I found a letter from the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement in Garrison, NY. They sent me a lovely St. Anthony prayer card and one of the prettiest medals I've seen in a long time: a little silver-tone heart outlined in gold tone, with the image in the centre of St. Anthony embracing the infant Jesus--the way Anthony is usually iconically depicted. The prayer card also surprised me into a moment of joy, for instead of the usual “Tony, Tony, turn around. Something’s lost and must be found” thing (which I adore, BTW, I don't mean to sound disparaging...) it has a prayer with which I am far less familiar. This is what it says:

Oh Holy St. Anthony,
Reach down from heaven and take hold of my hand.

Assure me that I am not alone.

You are known to possess miraculous powers
and to be ever ready to speak for those in trouble.

Loving and gentle St. Anthony,
Reach down from heaven I implore you and assist me
in my hour of need. Obtain for me (mention your request here).

Dearest St. Anthony,
Reach down from heaven and guide me with thy strength.
Plead for me in my needs.
And teach me to be humbly thankful as you were,
for all the bountiful blessings I am to receive.


I was extremely touched by this prayer, especially feeling as I am tonight. In the midst of my own sorrow I was already remembering Alex and her sorrows; I asked St. Anthony to obtain for Alex a sense of God's presence, of David's presence, and a lot of peace of mind and heart-healing. And I felt humbly grateful for the chance to come outside my own selfishness for a while, to think of someone else and pray for them--for in the act of prayer for another, we gain all sorts of wonderful blessings for ourselves.

God is rather... good at that sort of thing--that reciprocal grace thing. :-) And I for one am very glad He is!

Coming around full circle, there was a grace given me this morning at 00:DARK:00 when I drove down the street to head off to work. I am living way out in the country now, as opposed to near the city; one can see MANY more stars here, and so it was this morning. A waxing gibbous moon hung in the sky like a lover, with several brighter stars visually nearby--an absolutely lovely sight, and one I have missed. I made myself take a moment--had not an entire extra hour been gifted to me, after all?--to look at it, and though it was not the first or last star of the night, I made a wish anyway. I opened my eyes, I engaged my brain, and my spirit danced. I received reassurance I was not alone... none of us are truly alone. Some days it is harder to see than others... but we are never alone. As the song says in "Into the Woods":

"Sometimes people leave you
halfway through the Wood...
Don't let parting grieve you--
No one's gone for good!
You are not alone...."

Good rest to you, David dear... and good grief to you, dear Alex. May God fill the wait with many graces, and help you find your voice once more!


seeking chivalry said...

I'm glad you're settling into the new place, and isn't it nice to know that all of your messes are _yours_?

That St. Anthony prayer is lovely -- I prayed it as I read it.

I find it very hard to miss Lewis, and while at times I'm grateful for that, at the same time I wish that I could. It seems cold somehow to not miss him after fifteen years together. :/

Mother Laura said...

Yes, beautiful prayer to someone who has helped me "find" so many things--communities and paths to live my vocation as well as car keys....I'm glad it gave you some comfort in a challenging transition, and grateful you shared it.

Oh, Kate, sweetie....no words. No guilt, either, 'kay?

(((Sharon+ and Kate)))

Anonymous said...

hi im a 15 year old female...i live in the los angelses area of california and i am just here to thank you so much for putting this up...i have been looking for that prayer for along time now...i was sent the same prayer in the mail...but through time i lost it...thank you so much for putting it up i wrote it down...well thats all i wanted to say...kay? bye...