Sunday, February 26, 2012

Blue Winter (in Lenten Time)

Blue Winter

Winter uses all the blues there are.
One shade of blue for water, one for ice,
Another blue for shadows over snow.
The clear or cloudy sky uses blue twice-
Both different blues. And hills row after row
Are colored blue according to how far.
You know the bluejay's double-blur device
Shows best when there are no green leaves to show.
And Sirius is a winter bluegreen star. 

~ Robert Frost

On January 12th, a family who tends to keep the tradition each Sunday morning, of sitting directly in front of our family at church, the ones with the little cuties we smile at and have connected with over time, happily celebrated the arrival of their new baby girl "Marie". She was born the most feminine and daintiest little gal, so not like all their other strapping newborns have been before her. 

One week later, many parishioners were invited and gathered for Marie's baptism right after Sunday morning mass. Cake and coffee were served in the basement, and there was no sign, no clue, nor any hint of what was to come, just three days later. 

Rushed to emergency, this wee babe was in a critical state. Her parents were given the difficult news that this precious daughter had a rare condition called "Edwards Syndrome", also otherwise known as "Trisomy 18". She was suffering critical cardiac symptoms, among other associated organ failures, and wasn't expected to live much longer.  

Time with this wee babe suddenly became incredibly precious!

The past few Sundays have created a time of mourning in our parish, just knowing how difficult it must be for this family, the mother weeping quietly while another small one was hugging her tightly on her lap, the father attempting to be strong and hold it together while obviously attempting a prayerful concentration on the photo of his new baby resting gently within his missal, and the rest of the children (this was baby number nine) all trying to be brave while hardly understanding the full scope of what is happening to them. 

Last Sunday was an especially stark contrast when (of all times!) the chicken pox hit their home, and with the help of family and friends, both mother/father attended mass on their own. Both were arm and arm most of the time, or holding hands with tissues moist and interchanged often for fresh ones, they were all alone in their painful thoughts and pew, for the very first time in forever. Recently, their baby had been transferred to a more local hospital nearby after having been transported initially to the children's hospital in a larger city quite a distance away. 

As the case has been each day, they were going again after mass to spend the day with her, savoring every single extended blessed moment possible, as she has lived much longer than all odds were first estimated. Still, with a large hole in her heart and continued multiple organ failures, it remains all too grim for any chances of survival, her last breath only a matter of time. 

Just two weeks ago, the young mother whose eyes met mine briefly gave way to her seeking me and falling full sweep into my arms. Words were unspoken and there she wept, hard, on my shoulder, and her husband watched helplessly nearby, our warm misty united eyes also catching glimpses, but not wanting to be let go, I just held her tightly in a warm and loving embrace until she was able to compose herself again.

The clock ticked, but time stood still. It was such an honor to be a vessel allowing her to release sorrow's pent up expressions, to mourn with her, to know I could at the very least offer her that moment. There are no words for such a special grace as that became for me. None.

It's Lent. I know that. 

A green light beckons for all things in our life's priority reflections, to attempt to gain a closer walk with God, to seek out his will in our personal circumstances, and allow sacrifice to become a way of life for us for a mere, puny, six weeks - six out of fifty-two weeks. 

And many scoff and deny themselves this ripe and bountiful season. In their busyness they tend instead to shift their priorities to the frivolous time wasters, the insignificant in the grand scope of importance.

What an utter waste of promise to skip this opportunity...such a tiny space in time to enable a gain in new longed for habits, spring cleaning anyone (who can miss this one!), and perhaps the glorious understanding of a whole heavenly kingdom. Seems utterly wasteful not to try. 

Maybe we'll stumble, maybe we'll forget. Often. Maybe we'll put ourselves to the test, with tough goals for home and hearth, things to do around our homes, such lofty pious goals perhaps included in the long list. Maybe though none will be attained. But at least we can say we made a worthy attempt. And, "we tried". 

Maybe Lent will visit us, we won't have to go looking for it, because as anyone knows; life happens!

And he cometh to his disciples, 
and findeth them asleep, and he saith to Peter: 
What? Could you not watch one hour with me?

~ Matthew 26:40

During this time of the liturgical year however, on the flip side, the reality is some folks have extra painful crosses unexpectedly filling their lives, with weak and horrendously futile attempts made to try and understand such things. 

And worst of all, a misty fog of disbelief creates a blinding vision. Like the almost invisible mustard seed, they eventually sift through, and find their way through the pain to the cross, and blessings come their way in most mysterious ways when all is said and done.

Nothing else seems to matter during times such as this. Priorities are mindful, because it's the only way to move forward. How long Lord? How long? 

Time floats elsewhere, somewhere out yonder, certainly time shockingly stands still, the feeling of being in a bad dream begins to creep in, and never leave. 

A stormy time awaits our parish couple as they've been forced to prepare for the burial of their new baby. The topics with their children have included death, plans for an upcoming funeral, and then searching to remember that there is a beautiful and eternal life waiting ahead, a happy thought to be sure, for their wee Marie. Still, it's evident the bond of the parents and child are strong, offering up their own desires to the express will of God's is tough.

My heart hurts for them, for this couple who yearn this baby's heavenly reward, and for a happier time ahead before all are reunited some day. We may not know why this happened, but we trust and know there is a greater heavenly purpose to be sure, a possibility perhaps that very soon a perfect little saint will be amongst us. 

As more newborns are about to enter our church pews, a constant reminder of new fresh from heaven little lives, I pray and offer up my Lent for this family, that they may experience a tremendous and beautiful peace that surpasses *all* understanding.