Start of Advent

The start of Advent, a time of preparation for the birth of Jesus, a new year for the Church. An interesting moment occurred after mass today, actually after adoration, quiet prayerful time before the Eucharist. First words about the social gathering after mass, the drinking of coffee amidst others. Carrie is centered in my focus. I can feel she is chaotic, spent, energy dissipated in dealing with her husband’s critical cancer, the accepting of the fact he will not get better. She is dealing with a massive overload of emotion as well as worldly demands. I sense extreme anger within her, channeling rage upon medical authorities and personnel caring for her husband. Today fixated upon the fact ‘they’ over hydrated him, causing extreme swelling in his arms and legs. I say nothing, keeping my distance, being fully present for her when she turns her attention to me. I know every move she is making when she is near. I want to bring comfort, yet I trust in God. During the coffee drinking, Ramona and her dignified son joined myself and a character I would like to comment upon. Ramona is another I am focused upon, still defining, allowing the fact I perceive something of worth in her spiritually. I am intrigued that in searching she is absolutely convinced St Paul Shrine is her spiritual home. I am hoping she will comprehend the presence of the Eucharist more, sitting before it in stillness and quiet, allowing her solitary life to be gazed upon by the Lord. God has called her to St Paul Shrine and she heard the call. It is immense. The character completing the coffee drinking assembly, a retired school teacher overwhelmed me with knowledge, supplying acute understanding of history, linguistics, anthropology, and most pleasing to myself stories of Cleveland history, millionaires row the wonders of Cleveland during the turn of the century. Awe-inspiring, highly-intelligent, insistent upon making an impression with his worldly acumen, I found him a bit tiresome after mass, desperate in his need to impress others.  He concretely allowed me to identify what my spiritual life is not. I am a simple man of prayer, nothing more and nothing less.  I cannot dazzle the world.  The poem from my sister-in-law became relevant. Walking into adoration, silence before the Eucharist, I passed the man amazing Father Roger with his knowledge of African languages, barraging the priest with his brilliant personality. I cherished the presence of the man, marveling at his generation, his taking me through the nineteenth century and his personal history including starting college in 1958 at Kent State University in Akron, Ohio. The incident I found most insightful occurred after mass. I exited the church, placing my hat upon my head, discovering Carrie decorating the Giving Tree, a Christmas tree St Paul Shrine sets up for gathering gifts for needy children. It is a project Carrie and her husband Roger take charge of.  Instantly, I knew God blessed me with alone time with Carrie. I knew what I wanted to stress to her. She began rambling, talking all over the place, telling me how spread out she felt, unable to find time to pay her bills, time for nothing. She was unable to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. She felt guilty for not being with her husband. She expressed anger when I mentioned a friend’s name who visited with her husband, explaining to me Roger does not want visitors. He is in good spirits, yet not desiring company. She was upset this man conducted the effort to find out what hospital Roger is in and took it upon himself to visit. She stressed she would let people know when he wanted to receive visitors. She is a woman prone to anger. I felt great anxiety within her. My words flowed, stressing she needed to tend to herself, being a caregiver was difficult. She had to establish daily alone time, quiet and prayer, gathering and strengthening herself. If she was chaotic around her husband, he would sense it, trying to comfort her. I told her passionately that she must pray, open herself to God, to strengthen herself so she can bring strength to her husband. There was so much more I wanted to say. She cut my words short, agreeing with them, authentically acknowledging she must concentrate upon her prayer life.  I wanted to leave her to quietness, with the potential for revealing God, so I commented how beautiful the Giving Tree looked.

I am short on time, ending now with a poem that sprang to life during mass.

Three arrivals,
Physical presence,
Complete in perfection,
A circling in formation,
As it was in the beginning,
It is now,
And will be forever,

A baby is born,
A solitary life,
Into poverty,
The little town of Bethlehem,
New life,

The Eucharist,
Quiet and still,
Hidden amidst the turmoil,
Desperate and loud,
Standing proud,

An ending,
A wound mending,
The end of the world,
Cessation in coming,
The completion of all that is good,
Not knowing,
Finality on into eternity,


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