Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 – St. Gabriel – Stamford, CT

I had to be at my school for the play “Aladdin –Jr. Version” today for the 1pm show and the 6pm show. So, I decided to run over to St. Gabriel’s in Stamford for 4pm Mass. I had no idea that it would look like a converted gymnasium attached to Trinity Catholic Middle School.

I went in and it was a pretty enough church. A very nice woman offered me a candle to light at the start of mass for the Feast of the Presentation. It was a nice prayer prior to mass and we all passed our lights on to each other (there’s a pretty image) and as the priest came down the center aisle to officially start mass, everyone’s light was shining. The place was pretty crowded!

The second reading was Hebrews 2:14-18. The last verse says “Since he was himself tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are tested.”  It made me think of how often people say, “If you only knew.” To which someone else always say, “Trust me, I’ve been there.”

For me, it is much easier to talk to a friend who I know has struggled with something that I am going through. I know they will judge me less (or in a perfect world, not at all) if they have been through a similar struggle. As a parent, friend, or professional, it is hard to let my guard down sometimes and truly open myself up to someone else for fear of being judged or talked about later to someone else. Yet, when I find someone who I can talk to who I know has been through a similar situation, it is easier.

In this verse from Hebrews, it just reminded me that there are so many people out there in my life who have gone through some pretty tough stuff and in some weird way maybe they had to go through their own stuff so that they can turn around and be someone I can confide in or have as a role model so that I can make it through those tough days.

Conversely, maybe I have had to deal with certain situations, challenges, disappointments, so that I can help someone else go through those times. In this way I can truly say, “Trust me, I’ve been there.”

During Communion, another phrase came to me. “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.” For the first time in my life……the Communion line started in the back of the church! It seemed so weird at first, but this phrase repeated in my head. The front row guy was actually the last one to be served. It was the dead opposite of any church I have ever been in…..interesting!

As I sat there in the fourth row waiting for the Communion line to get to the front (which was weird because I felt like I needed to watch for when the row behind me stood to go to Communion!) my friend Elsie walked past me. In my first year in Darien as a new teacher, Elsie was my paraprofessional in my room. When our boss, Don, told her about me being hired and introduced us, he said to her “Take her under your wing.” And she sure did!!! Her youngest son was in 7th or 8th grade at the time with three older ones in high school, then as the years went on she became a part of all 4 of my children’s lives! We have stayed good friends for over 28 years!

After Mass I caught up with Else and gabbed for a while! It was such a treat to see her. For the second time today, a woman from a previous part of my life reconnected with me. It was such a nice blessing!  I love Elsie and I am so grateful for all the kindness, patience, love, and guidance she has given me all those years we worked together!

I would have missed the opportunity of seeing her if I hadn’t gone to that 4pm Mass in a converted middle school gym. Again, there are no coincidences. Something called me there today! I’m convinced!



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