I just had such a conversation. I don’t want to forget it, but already so much of it is slipping away from memory. It was more than the meeting of minds or hearts—although it certainly was that—it was the communion of two souls. After Mass today I very much wanted to tell a lady from our parish who I know and like, but don’t know as well as I’d like to know, that I really appreciated her rendering of the Second Reading from Philippians. It’s a difficult selection and she is a superb lector, but today I could hear the Holy Spirit speaking through St. Paul’s words and her voice. It was a God moment.
Before I had a chance to tell her what I thought about her lectoring, we started talking about women, our need to give, the importance and gift of being able to receive, and special women we both know. Then in a very natural way, the conversation turned to the loss of her husband four years ago and her subsequent walk with grief.
This was not one of those conversations with a woman looking for sympathy. Rather it was the shared insight from a truly Wise Woman.
The husband she described sounded very much like my own husband—a wonderful man, loving, considerate, generous, hard-working, always thinking of others before himself. He used to take care of everything around the house, from doing the grocery shopping to scrubbing the bathroom floors. After he died, she would find herself on her knees scrubbing the floors crying ... thinking ... remembering. There are some things in the past which shouldn’t be forgotten.
But when he died she found her real spiritual work began. She needed to learn to develop in areas which she didn’t even know existed, where he’d been strong for her. It was this inner strength, this holy wisdom, this deep spirituality which I heard when she lectored. I drank it in.
I thought too about my own dear husband and felt a moment of panic, sheer terror actually, as I thought of my own potentially impending future, a time to come without him. What would I do? How could I go on?
She spoke of kind people—dear friends—wanting so desperately to help her in her bereavement and how she helped them in allowing them to help her. We both had tears in our eyes and few spilled over as well. She apologized to me! I felt privileged and honored that she would share her story with me.
We talked about judgments and she said how we are all taught to judge everything, from the weather, to people, to situations. But what a different perspective if instead of judging we choose to look at everything as an opportunity from God to grow. “What do you want me to gain from this O LORD?” And she said oh so much more…
Finally I did get to tell her how much I enjoyed and benefited from hearing her lector today, but by the time I did, I had already gained so much more, well … anyway, it made her happy. And for that LORD, I am truly grateful!
‘Remember not the events of the past,
the things of long ago consider not;
see, I am doing something new!’