I made it to Palm Sunday mass last weekend, seeking the familiarity of my faith because it brings comfort, strength, and a chance to thank God.
That last part actually should have come first. I guess when you are caught up in the challenges of life, it is common to ask for things before you remember to be grateful for something you’ve been given.
I’m not gonna lie. I’ve asked for a lot in my life. Some of the things I’ve asked for have been silly: “Please make that boy like me.” “Please help me pass my driver’s test.”
Then there have been the big things.
“Please help my mother recuperate from this illness.”
“Please let my brother regain the use of his legs.”
There is no shame in the asking. We look to our faith to get us through the tough stuff. We don’t always understand the timing when things get fixed or changed or given, but holding tight to that faith puts us in a position of strength. We can handle anything. We only have to trust.
Today, I’m sharing the exchange I had yesterday at church that reminds me of the power of faith. The kind of faith that lifts you up, just when you think you are down for the count. Just when you think, that’s it, I cannot try anymore. I quit.
I had parked myself in my usual church pew and said my prayers before mass. As I finished and sat back in my seat, the woman who always sits on the other end of the pew slid over.
“Excuse me,” she said. Pointing to my pocketbook, she said, “May I ask, who is Joyce?”
She wanted to know about the Justice for Joyce button pinned to a bandana on my red pocketbook. I had brought Joyce to church with me. I bring her everywhere with me, really, as the button that bears her beautiful face and name is always pinned to my purse.
With only a few minutes before mass was about to begin, I quickly told her about Joyce.
Believe it or not, it is possible to tell a tragic story of murder and injustice in just a few sentences. I guess I’ve been telling this story a lot. The talking points are my life, and the life of my family.
I told the woman that my family is hoping that something good can come from Joyce’s horrible death. By helping to inform the public about the criminal justice system and the injustices we experienced – and still endure today – we hope that reform will come. We hope that other people can be spared the grief of such a tragedy.
“How old was your sister?” the woman asked.
“She was 19,” I said, adding, “a college student.”
The woman asked me my name, and we introduced ourselves. Funny how we have been sitting next to each other in that pew on Sunday mornings for years now, and the way we met was through my sister, Joyce.
“I’ll pray for your sister,” the woman said, before sliding back over to her side of the pew.
I can’t describe the feeling that settled in me, at the moment, but I can tell you the thought that sprang to my mind. That’s my little sister, always in the middle of stirring up goodness.
You don’t believe in the power of God? Then, how about angels?
©2018 By Marianne V. Heffernan