Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014 – Good Friday (NECC & St. Jerome) and Easter (Calf Pasture Beach & NECC)

After spending a few days in South Carolina with my parents, I came home on Holy Thursday. Liz picked me up at the airport (THANKS LIZ!!) and the Holy Weekend began. The kids, Vinnie, and I went to NECC for service on Good Friday and then I went to St. Jerome for 14 STEPS with my sisters (Leslie, Lisa, Nancy, and Jen). As usual, I cried when they boys picked up “Jesus” and carried him out singing Long Live God. It was the start of a weekend where I really saw “Easter” from a mother’s point of view.
On Good Friday morning, a 17 year old boy did not wake up – here in Norwalk – passed away in his sleep. Leslie and Liz both know the family. Heartbreaking is the only word I can think of. His mother, Ramona, was constantly on my mind all day and then especially, when the “soldiers” lifted “Jesus” up over their heads at St. Jerome Church during the reenactment of the Living Stations of the Cross, my heart broke for her….so did my floodgates. I have never made it through The 14 Steps production without crying, but tonight was especially hard. The thought of Ramona’s son, his body surrendered to his God, on the same day that we remember the crucifixion, was overwhelming.
My mind flooded to other mothers, my friends, who have lost their young adult child in the past 2 years: Giovanna and her son Andy, Liz and her son Mike, and Marilyn and her daughter Shannon. And now, Ramona and her son Chris. Giovanna, Liz, Marilyn, and Ramona, and so many other women have stood helpless as their own children returned to their Heavenly Father….just as Mary stood, helpless and sad, at the foot of the cross.

My hope is that these women will gain strength from Mary’s example and from the so many other women who have had to walk this journey in a similar way. I can’t even imagine how deep the pain and sorrow is, yet each one of them celebrate the lives of their children, speaking so proudly of them, and are living examples of “true love” for me as I watch them walk their walk of faith.
This Easter, the story of the crucifixion and resurrection seemed a little more real to me as I thought about it through the lens of a Mother.
In the morning of Easter Sunday, Clyna picked me up at 6:45am, we grabbed a cup of tea, and headed to the Sunrise Service at Calf Pasture Beach. I think this was our 15th Easter Service together. Through rain, sleet, freezing cold, and beautiful sunshine, we have stood “at the flagpole” facing the water, listening to the various Evangelical pastors, and the PIVOT Men’s Ministry sing. This year, the sky was beautiful blue and the sun lifted just above the horizon, shining right along the water. The American Flag was waving in the light breeze. The pastor leading the service made note of the Flag representing the wonderful freedoms we all have as Americans and then bridged over to the fact that through Easter (The Resurrection) we are free from this world so that we will have eternal life with God. (He did a much better job on this message than I just did! But…..Trust me though, it was pretty cool!) It dawned on me that in EVERY church I have been to so far, there is an American Flag somewhere inside the church and on this beautiful, brisk April morning at Calf Pasture beach, our flag was proudly flying over the Easter service!
Silently I thanked the American soldiers around the world for all of our freedoms….and silently I prayed for each of their mothers.
Happy Easter!

 

Sunday, March 30, 2014 – Holy Trinity Church – Sherman, CT

Happy Birthday Mom!!

Saturday night, Christine and I went to see a play at Long Wharf called, Shadows of a Hummingbird. It was very good and very deep. A one man (and one boy) show that explored the concepts of sight, shadows, and innocence. In my journal, following the play, I wrote: “It was about not losing sight of the innocence in life. It referred to all kinds of “Sight” – internal, visual sights, physical sight, imaginary images, and shadows (not tangible)…are they  “real” things, seeing them, losing them, becoming a shadow of yourself. These were the themes of the play.”

Then, I went to church at Holy Trinity and the reading was all about Jesus helping the blind man to see and what that means in the Catholic faith. Who knew these two things…the play…and Mass would be connected on the same theme.

The priest was very nice and spoke about seeing what is there in front of you and also seeing beyond the obvious. He spoke of what we see when we look at an individual vs. what God sees when he looks at that same individual. That made me think of the fact that who we are on the surface is not who we truly are inside sometimes….and if this is true for me (I am not always aligning my behaviors and words to who I am on the inside…that God sees) this is true for the other people around me as well.

SO……the message to me is ….sometimes I have to look a little deeper (and not judge!) and see who the person in front of me truly is and ask, “How does God see this person?” That is not an easy question…..usually because I am quickly judging that person or comparing them to how I do things or see things….not how he/she sees things based on what God has put on their hearts.

Something to think about there!!  Who is the person I see when I look deeper and see beyond the physical being in front of me.

On a very nice note, the man next to me was a regular! Everybody knew him. He introduced himself to me as “Hello, I am running for Mayor of the Church!”. He was very nice and after mass introduced me to 4 other couples who were standing around us. I told him (and them) what I was doing there and he simply said, “That is awesome! Please come back and see us anytime!”. I left there with such a light heart!  He truly made me feel welcome in God’s House! Thanks Mayor!!

Saturday, March 29, 2014 – St. Clement of Rome – Stamford, CT

The Mass was held in the chapel this morning, not in the church. And, actually the chapel was the converted basement of the rectory. It looked every bit of a converted basement: the low ceiling, the shelving along the sides of the wall, the metal supporting pole in the middle of the room supporting the ceiling. Then it had added features: the 12 pews, the statues standing on the cement shelves lining the walls, the gold plated Stations of the Cross hung at eye level leaving less than a foot from the frame to the ceiling of each station, and the shuffling of feet from someone upstairs.

It was cozy, truly like being in someone’s basement: there was an old “Italian” man, an older woman, maybe from Hungary, and another woman leading the Rosary when I first arrived. Then came the thirty-something-year-old Spanish guy, the 40-something year old Asian woman, a 70-something year old couple, and 4 generations from one family. The mass was being said for the “great grandmother” who passed away last year. The family’s ages ranged from 93 to 2 years old. Quite an eclectic bunch….not that much different than the eclectic bunch of stuff in my basement right now!

So I thought about what a basement meant to me……It meant:

  • A playroom
  • A place where time is measured and told in loads of laundry cycles
  • A place where time was passed while pushing water out with a broom when we flooded
  • A Christmas Day or Commack, Long Island with Susie singing “Take Me Home Country Road” on her guitar
  • Great, loud, and never sleeping Slumber parties
  • Secret phone conversations linked by the long kitchen cord into the stairway to the basement for at least a little bit of privacy for an adolescent
  • My teenage bedroom and family room
  • And my childhood Church…….the Folk Mass at St. Joseph Church where Dad and I were readers and my friends and their parents played acoustic guitars and strummed, “And they’ll know we are Christians by  our love, By our love, Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love”.

On Saturday, the basement chapel was the foundation for the rectory and the place for Mass. However, the basement, more importantly, is the foundation of my spiritual journey from a long time ago! It felt safe and right being in the basement with a group of people I have never met before, yet we were all at home in God’s basement.