Posted By Lewinna on May 5, 2015
The day was oddly cool for the season, even as the sun waxed higher in the sky. And me in flip-flops with no hat. Scarf, but no hat. It was fortunate indeed that the day was breezy and cool. The situation that had propelled me on this pilgrimage of a hike, across the interstate, up and down long grass and hills, fording two streams, walking on a terrifying highway bridge to cross a much larger river, seemed to me like one that my sense of self-preservation and terror had overreacted to, despite my having trauma with those sorts of triggers.
Along the hike my mind was occupied with placing my feet, finding the rather unwalkable route betwixt lanes of roaring traffic and fenced off gullies, with the occasional two-block jaunt through a nice residential neighborhood before I was climbing the next hill. I didn’t feel bad or even panicky, so long as I was out of the reach of the people who had caused my upset. I shook my head. There was SOME reason for this excursion, some greater plan for it that I knew nothing of. My flip flops kept coming apart, but between putting them back together and going barefoot, I was not making bad time. Had I planned this excursion, I would not be in flip flops. Nor without a hat.
I was on a MISSION… well, just to get to church. Eventually I did get there, after about three and a half hours of walking. Despondent, I took another three and a half hours to lay in a stupor half in the sun, wrapped in my chaddar, trying to get warm and feel less nauseous. No one was ever around on Mondays, so I had a lot of time to think. I wasn’t quite sure what to think about. My brain felt in a slow fog, that circled from a strange kind of waiting confusion to outright anxiety and conviction, once again, that I didn’t belong here, that I should’ve been a Hare Krishna, where people lived more ordered and sane lives. Of course there was no food, but I took several trips to the water fountain to ease my aching head.
Five hours later I creeped my way into the church. The May crowning of Mary had occurred just yesterday–it had been glorious, I had been singing in the choir, and we had a long procession where we sang a litany and many hymns to Mary. The tenderness and sweetness of such a loving expression still filled the little Mary altar, overflowing with fragrant flowers of all types. The statue of her stood there with the wreath of flowers upon its head. I sat down in the front pew. I was still stupefied. I went in and out a few times, but achieved no more success either at praying or feeling any clarity on anything.
Presently I noticed that someone else had come into the church after me. Peeking back, I saw it was a priest–but one I had never seen before. We had three priests at our church, and being members of the Fraternity they always wore long black cassocks. This priest had on only a white collar and a black suit. He poked around the back of the church a bit, walked the aisles praying his office… I gave him a few glances, but then just continued sitting by the flowers. Who was he? Why had he come HERE to pray–as a priest didn’t he have his own church to pray in? Questions to which I had no answer didn’t bother me much.
A little while, and he left… but not before calling out to me, “Excuse me–” I turned around. “Would you please pray for me?” he asked. “Father Gabriel.”
“Okay,” I said. He thanked me and left. Thinking little of it, I turned around and looked at the altar again. I hadn’t been able to pray at all for the past two days, and expected no more success now–but suddenly inspiration and consolation filled me and I found pouring from my heart every heartfelt thanksgiving, and petition for Father Gabriel’s help and hope, sentiments I could not have dreamed up five minutes ago. Of course I went with it–how exciting. I prayed for him for some time and then, when I finished, my previous dryness immediately returned.
I was too tired to care much, but the incident made me ponder. Truly the grace to pray is one given by God, for without His aid we have no power of our own to reach Him or even to speak to Him. He must, I thought, be proving this to me by allowing these various torments and the non-functionality that so frustrates me. Here, however, He proves to me that He can give it back in a moment should He so desire.
O fickle diety!
Still, as I sat there, I was soothed, peaceful. The colorful fragrant flowers felt like a sweet embrace, and I couldn’t take my eyes off of the altar. Here HE was. Some vestiges of the love I had always had for Him there with us in the Blessed Sacrament, for the Mass, perked up a bit. How wonderful it was of Him to care so much for his ministers, the priests consecrated to act in His person for the benefit of the whole world.
I went back outside to sit for a while. A friend of mine showed up, who I had been texting during the day. “Hi there, you crazy lady,” she said to me, and, telling me to eat already, unlocked the kitchen for me.
I set to this exhausting but by this time highly necessary task. After this tiring repast, forty-five minutes later, I wandered out to stare at the bulletin board. As always, a large poster advertising the seminary was displayed prominently. On it were the photographs of all the current seminarians–I found myself absorbed with staring at each of their faces. All of them such ordinary looking men, features of all shapes and sizes, nothing physical remarkable at all… yet to me each one of them glowed. Those smiles for the camera were telling me excitedly, “This is my body–my life–given up for you and for many.”
… The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. …
I went back outside to meet my two friends. Father Gordon had just returned from a hike (Monday being his day off), and we all chatted for a while. I told them about Father Gabriel and my experience with praying for him. Father Gordon seemed to suddenly have attention for this story, looking at me–
“You see,” I said, “I have realized today that God does as He wishes with us, and it’s not even that I’ve done anything, but He is doing His own purpose torturing me!”
“No,” he said, “the reason I was taken aback… is that… it seems you may have a vocation to pray for priests.”
“There’s something I’m supposed to do…” I said. “That’s good news.”
Quite confidently he then quoted to me Isaiah 54:1…
“Give praise, O thou barren, that bearest not: sing forth praise, and make a joyful noise, thou that didst not travail with child: for many are the children of the desolate, more than of her that hath a husband, saith the Lord.”
“Hey, yeah!” I said. “It’s the way it was arranged; there won’t be any children for me, because my husband ran off…”
“Not physical children,” he agreed, “but so many more SPIRITUAL children.”