Quotes From Literature

“No weeping, child. You’ll miss me and you’ll be sad for a while, but there’s no tragedy in the death of an old woman. It’s the way of things.”
~ Granny Cordeilla from Music of the Distant Stars, by Alys Clare




I came across this passage while reading on the day my grandmother died. It made me both smile and cry because it’s exactly what I needed to hear.  It is so-called “coincidences” like this that convince me there is a higher power. Sometimes we need to tap into it and sometimes, as in this case, it taps into us.

A Midlife Mama Rediscovers Catholicism

Last night, I spent the evening in what was at first a darkened church, was soon lit up by hundreds of candles, and then was fully lit as bells chimed, an organ played, and a choir sang out Hallelujah. The smell of incense filled the air and at one point holy water was sprinkled upon the congregation. It was the Holy Saturday Easter Vigil at the Catholic Church where my son goes to school. He and my mother were with me.

I’m what you’d call a lapsed Catholic. That means although I was baptized in the Catholic Church and went so far as to make my communion, I don’t actively practice the faith. When my parents divorced when I was eight and the Church made my mother feel like a pariah because of it, we stopped having anything to do with it.

That didn’t stop me years later from having my first three sons baptized in the Church, mostly out of the superstitious belief that if they weren’t baptized they’d be doomed to hell. Ironically, my youngest son, the only one to attend a Catholic school, was never baptized. By the time he came along when I was 38, I no longer held such beliefs.

I put my son in Catholic school this year because the public schools in our town are horrible and getting worse by the minute. The school he attends is an award-winning, Blue Ribbon school. I’m beyond happy with the high quality education he’s receiving. He’s takes pride in his academics and in his school community.

My son has decided that he wants to get baptized and make his communion. As he prepares for these sacraments, it’s my job as his mother to support him in his journey in faith. Hence, the reason we were in church last night.

Part of me remains a skeptic. The same is true for my mother. Last night, when the priest was reading the story of Moses parting the Red Sea, and recited how the water covered the Egyptians and killed them, we glanced at each other with raised eyebrows.

Then my mother did the unthinkable. She leaned over and whispered to my son, “If God is so great why did He kill all those people?”

I couldn’t believe she said it. I shot her a murderous look, and mouthed to her, “Don’t say that to him.”

My son responded, “Because those people were bad.”

Oh my goodness. Talk about complicated.

Once I took a graduate course entitled, “The Bible as Literature”, in which we read the Old Testament from a literary perspective. It was the first time I’d ever really read and dissected The Bible. God seemed so angry and mean and vindictive to me, killing people, demanding animal sacrifices. Yet, during the Holy Saturday Easter Vigil, He was made out to be a hero.

Despite my skepticism, the Easter Vigil was a beautiful, peaceful experience. The youngest of the three priests overseeing it delivered the sermon, which included a funny story about the Easter Bunny being run over and revived with hair spray (get it, “Hare” spray?”). An overall feeling of goodwill permeated.

Thanks to my eight year old son, I am rediscovering the Catholic Church after a nearly 40 year hiatus. I’m not sure what the outcome will be for me, as a person who believes in a higher power yet remains skeptical about organized religion, but I am one-hundred percent committed to supporting my son on his journey.

Happy Easter!

Proof of Faith

A book on meditation, a prayer to St. Jude, and a mustard seed. Alone these things might be brushed off as strange coincidences; combined, they are nothing short of a series of small miracles designed to send me a message from beyond. Of this, I am convinced.

The book on meditation suddenly appeared on the tank of my downstairs toilet last month. To this day, not one person in my household can explain how it got there. It had been sitting on a closet shelf in an upstairs bedroom for years, forgotten.

In and of itself this was strange, but even more eerie was that the night before I found it, I’d committed to beginning 21 consecutive days of meditation, yoga, and journaling in an effort to turn inward for answers to my life’s problems. From prior experience, I knew the most important aspect of this challenge was the daily meditation.

And here was a book on the topic, given to me by my meditation teacher, whose guru from India had written it, suddenly appearing out of nowhere. I nearly brushed off the incident, for no other reason than I couldn’t explain it, but then the prayer to St. Jude happened.

On Monday, while I was home from work due to a snow day, I was reading through old personal journals in between doing housework, as part of my quest to do some self-examination. I’d been feeling desperate because once again my husband lost a great paying job and the new one is not paying well. I could feel myself sliding into fear mode.

I started to vacuum, but the machine suddenly stopped working. It does this sometimes when it’s over-heated. So I sat down and starting flipping through a journal from 2008. On one of the pages I’d written the Prayer to Saint Jude. Hope suddenly ran through me. I tore out the page, said the prayer, then put it aside and tried the vacuum again. It still wouldn’t work.

The phone rang. I kid you not – I swear on my life – on the caller ID were the words “St. Jude”. Yes, I have donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital before, and they do call fairly often, but still…

I picked up the phone, politely listened to the woman, and promised to donate. Then I got off and immediately called my closest girlfriend, the one who wouldn’t think I was crazy, who would believe me, who didn’t question that the meditation book had appeared out of nowhere.

I took this incident as proof that St. Jude was letting me know he’d heard my prayer.

Now for the mustard seed. I’ve been thinking a lot about fear lately. I ended up writing a blog post about how the opposite of fear is faith, and that I needed more of the latter (yet to be posted). Anyway, my son goes to parochial school and every Thursday night he must study for Friday’s religion test. Usually we read his religious text together for this purpose.

About a month ago, we read a story that included a mustard seed, which I learned is a symbol of faith in God. It was then that my son told me his teacher had given a mustard seed to him and each of his classmates a while ago, but that he’d lost it. He explained that it was very tiny, which was why he lost it.

Again, on Monday (so much gets accomplished on snow days), I was surfing the Internet and came across a blog post about mustard seeds and faith that included a picture of one. I called Christian over to show him, and to tell him that I understood how he could lose his mustard seed, because they really are so very tiny.

Once again, I kid you not – I swear on my life – yesterday morning, as we’re preparing to leave for school and work, my son says to me, “Mom, I found my mustard seed.” It was deep in the pocket of his uniform pants. For some reason he decided to stick his hand in the pocket and viola – the mustard seed! Those pants have been washed so many times, yet there it was, the near-microscopic seed, back in the hand of its owner. Even my son thought it was kind of a miracle.

That was the final straw for me. There is no doubt these events are far more than coincidences. A higher power is telling me that I am on the right track, that He hears my prayers, and that I need to have faith.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.