By Chava Redonnet, the bulletin for Oscar Romero Inclusive Catholic Church, July 17, 2022
This morning I waited by an elevator with a man from one of my dementia floors. He is someone who used to have things to say, but is increasingly silent and usually asleep. When I do a service on his floor, he sometimes wakes up to join in the Our Father, or clap along to a song, but that’s about it.
The elevator was taking a long time. I took out my phone, and pulled up a picture to show him while we waited. You might have seen it – that wonderful deep space photo from the Webb telescope, that seemed to be all over the internet this morning. I wasn’t sure if he could see it, or understand what it was, but I told him, and showed him the tiny photo. “It brings tears to my eyes,” I told him.
He nodded. “I’m one step ahead of you,” he said, wiping a tear away. “It’s beautiful!”
And that was all he said… but that brought tears to my eyes, too.
Also this morning: for the past year I’ve been feeding breakfast to one woman, several days a week, watching as she, too changes. The day before I left for the long weekend at the beginning of July, I gave her a blessing, because she was so still and silent that I wasn’t sure she would still be with us when I returned. But today, as I helped her drink her juice through a straw, which she can’t always do, I commented, “It’s good you can use a straw today, because you know how bad I am with a cup! It would be all down your front!” … and her eyes lit up, and she laughed. It didn’t last – pretty soon I was calling her name, trying to get her to swallow her eggs – but in that moment, she was there.
Here’s one more. Yesterday I went in to set up for the weekly worship service in the chapel, and found someone sitting there already, a man I didn’t know, in a wheelchair as most of our elders are. So I asked his name and introduced myself, taking in his missing teeth as well as his friendly demeanor. “I’m a man of the cloth,” he told me. “I have a call!” “Hey, me, too!” I said. He looked surprised and a bit doubtful, but nodded. And later, as I said what I always say before communion – about how we are from all different backgrounds, from churches that celebrate communion in different ways and have different ideas about what it’s all about — but here we are, sharing this meal, just because our Jesus asked us to — and I made sure to include him as I looked around the room, wondering what his own tradition was – him, and the woman from the fundamentalist church whose anti-vaxxer family has been devastated by Covid – who is also one of the people here with whom I have the deepest spiritual connection, because we both totally trust God, even though we have pretty different ideas about what God asks of us.
And all that reminded me of the time I was celebrating Mass on a Sunday morning at St Joe’s, and as I started the only man there told me he was hungry, so I made him a sandwich… which he ate, as I went on with the service… then he got mad, stood up and walked out the door, yelling, “And who the hell eats peanut butter and jelly?!!”
So I’m thinking about all those stories, and about that photograph – you know, just thinking about that photograph makes my heart beat faster – oh, my, we are so tiny – and we are so precious, so beautiful – fragile, fallible us. Glorious us, drops of God. Exasperating us – I looked at some of the comments under the picture and found people squabbling over – what? It was like that moment in “The Magician’s Nephew” when the Lion, Aslan, is walking around singing Narnia into being, and some people are in silent jaw-dropped wonder while others are trying to pick their pockets – and yes, that’s us humans.
And anyway, I’m thinking – looking at that photo – that it really is enough to just keep saying “YES!” and loving whomever God sends us to love.
Like Anne Lamott said: “I didn’t need to understand the hypostatic unity of the Trinity; I just needed to turn my life over to whoever came up with redwood trees.”
Hope you find yourself lost in awe and wonder, looking at all those galaxies
Love to all