Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"...take a sad song and make it better"

My Mother loved Saint Jude. I remember her receiving letters from his Shrine in New Orleans. She had medals and prayer cards and novenas in her bedroom. It was interesting to me as a child of 10 or so, NOT that I made the connection - that is, understood WHY Jude was so important to her. My Mom was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer around 1973. My Dad was wonderful when he explained it to us - took down a volume from the World Book Encyclopedia and used these cool diagrams of the human body to explain where the disease was and what the doctors would do. After surgery and radiation, my Mom went into remission. Then, two or three years later, it was back. I was older and not as dense by then. I got how serious it was when people started bringing food to the house. I knew that was NOT normal.

I prayed for her to get well. We all did - the whole community was surrounding her with loving energy. This second cancer was defeated. My Mom had 15 years with us "cancer-free." I was busy growing up, making my own mistakes, finding love and meaningful work. It's easy to forget how blessed you are until the next "shoe drops." I was 26 when Mom was diagnosed with a brain tumor. It took her in six months time. It's a terrible disease...

I'm almost 20 years older now. She and I have continued to nurture our relationship. In memory she comes close, I think, visits me. I no longer feel bereft of her, but connected to her goodness heart to heart. This is the power of our faith in the resurrection. She is and I am and somehow, we still share a mother-daughter love - a love that understands everything now, that allows for the other to be fully human. I treasure this love with all my heart. Today, for the first time in 20 years, I had the grace to thank Saint Jude. Perhaps, it was her prayer to him and his intercession that enabled her to raise us into young adulthood. Every time my Mom went to her oncologist for routine screening, the doctor would say she was a "miracle" patient. I hope my prayer of gratitude does not seem too little or too late to this Friend of GOD. For those precious years of life together, I say thank you, dear Jude, patron of impossible causes.

Blessings and love to you all...

- Sister Vicki

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"Your kingdom come..."

"Again JESUS said, “To what shall I compare the Kingdom of God?
It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch of dough was leavened."

In today’s gospel passage, the Lord gives us a unique metaphor. The Kingdom of God is like “yeast.” Yeast! I have a fear of yeast – seriously. It’s alive. You can’t just dump it into the flour and expect it to work. You must be mindful of the temperature of the water and the time needed for the yeast to awaken. You can’t work the dough too hard or to little. If you manage to do all this right, then you still have to let it nap for a while before it goes into the oven. Yeast is complicated stuff. It makes me a nervous wreck.

Why, then, am I fixated on it this morning? I can’t stop thinking about the last verse: “until the whole batch was leavened.” There’s something wonderful here that I just can’t get my head around. My heart, though, feels the truth in this metaphor. GOD will never give up on us. The Kingdom will come in its fullness only when the leaven of peace, justice and compassion have permeated the world.

Have you ever felt the Kingdom coming? I have. I have felt the Kingdom coming when a young woman with Downs Syndrome proclaimed the Word at the Sunday Eucharist. I have felt it coming in a moment of true forgiveness…true reconciliation with my sister. I have felt it coming in the gift of hope when faced with a fearful, impossible reality. I think we get glimpses of the Kingdom so that we can continue kneading the dough, working the yeast of Christ’s love into the whole world.

Blessings and love to you all…
- Sister Vicki