30 August 2009

Angels in unexpected places

Had an interesting weekend. Before we even made it out of the city limits on our way to the cabin, we had to have the car jumped (or jump started if you need a translation.) We stopped for lunch at Sonic, only to have the car not start -- all the gizmos on the dash board just twitched nervously when I tried to turn the engine over.

A kind fellow in a big truck, a hee-man angel, got us on our way by lending us his socket set and then providing a jump. We immediately drove across the street/freeway to the nearest automotive place to get a battery. $500, two hours and a new battery with alternator later, we were on our way.

Still had time to make it to the fish fry near our cabin. It was the last weekend of the seasonal event and we hadn't tried it yet. I was the only one to have fish. It was just OK. I had the three-piece cod instead of the lake fish, probably made the wrong choice.

The next day, hubby and my daughter got up not feeling well. The temps were frigid and it was misting, making it an all-around dismal day.

I planned to attend Mass that night by myself and leave the kids with hubby. When you're sick, staying home along with kids is, well, unfun. After a few hours of rest, hubby was feeling well enough to make it to Mass with me.

At the parish we attend, the priest is a good guy. There are several minor things he does that bother me, but I'm grateful to have him in the area. During the petitions, when I should've been paying attention, my mind was wandering to next month, when we will probably start staying in town and attending our home parish. It was a nice thought to not have to deal with EMHCs (at the anticipatory Mass, there were three EMHCs even though there were only about 30 people in attendance), my kids will get to see altar boys in action instead of the priest saying Mass alone, the Sign of Peace for the laity will be gone and no more hand-holding during the Our Father or having to watch Farmer Jones' interpretation of the Orans posture next to me.

And, no more having to see most everyone come to Mass in shorts and flip-flops. I do think you should wear your best. If your best is jeans, then wear them. But, just because it's summer, doesn't mean God is on vacation. He comes to us in complete generosity and humility -- our outward appearance should reflect our inward disposition. There was a man there in shorts, which wasn't even appropriate for the weather, not to mention Mass.

As my mind came back to the crucifix behind the altar, I was thankful for such a beautiful, realistic work. In this rather small and modern parish, it is stunning.

After Mass, on the way out, my son had to stop and shake the priest's hand. The gospel reading had been from St. Mark, so my son said to the priest, "Guess what?" A phrase that strikes fear into the hearts of all parents as they wait for the subsequent response. "My name is Mark." The priest looked at me in wonder. I told him that, "It was the Gospel according to Mark." Then he smiled in acknowledgement.

As my son and I were walking towards the car, I heard a woman behind me say, "Ma'am?" Like lightning, my mind was racing as to who could be addressing me since I don't know anyone in the town or parish, I hadn't left anything in the pew, my kids weren't terribly behaved, and there wasn't anything stuck to my shoe. "Ma'am?" I heard again and knew she was talking to me.

I turned around to see a woman about my own age walk up to me. She handed me a stash of dollar bills and said, "I got a few extra dollars in my check this week and want to give it to you to get something for the children."

I was stunned and speechless. I mustered, "Why, thank you ma'am. That is very kind of you." She walked away and that was it. I had $20 in my hand. No explanation, just the kindness of a stranger.

Certainly, we didn't look destitute (since we bring dress clothes along each weekend to wear to Mass). I think I heard the lady say as she turned and walked away, that she wanted to encourage families who brought their children to Mass (Father Z should take note!). I guess I shouldn't assign a motive to her generosity, but it definitely makes one wonder (and my mind wander as it did during Mass).

So, just in case, the kids and I are writing her a Thank You card and hope to see her next week at Mass to give it to her. Hubby and I plan to let the kids buy something at Leaflet Missal and also get them ice cream. Hubby argued that the money should "go back to God," but I said that the woman specified that she wanted us to do something "for the children"...she could've just as easily dropped the money in the collection if that was her intent.

Her actions make one wonder. Her actions touched and uplifted my family. Her actions will stay with me for a long time. God bless her.

(Picture, Gustave Dore, Beatrice from the Purgatorio)


Vincenzo said...

"I was stunned and speechless. I mustered, "Why, thank you ma'am. That is very kind of you." She walked away and that was it. I had $20 in my hand. No explanation, just the kindness of a stranger."


Cathy_of_Alex said...

Swissy: Of course, I agree with you comments about clothing at Mass! :-) But, as Vin said: wow. What great generosity. I wonder if you WILL see her again. Let us know if she's actually there to get the card. I'm curious.

Guess what? LOL! Tell Mark he did a fine job writing that Gospel!

swissmiss said...

Vin...I know!!

Cath: It was a strange, for lack of a better word, situation. Very kind, generous and thoughtful. Will let you know if we see the woman and get our thank you to her.

Angela M. said...

Love this post - especially the picture by Dore!

PS..I have a Luke...when he was little and the priest would say "the Gospel according to Luke" my kid would pipe up - "that's me!"