There is talk sometimes of the "sleep of the innocent" and I do not profess to have had that any time recently. What I have had, though, for the past several nights is the sleep of one who has done much, worked much, shared much, and experienced much. It has been the immobile sleep of good exhaustion, healthy emotional and physical exertion, and being free.
On Friday I went to a farm with 49 students. I was on the bus for a total of 6 1/2 hours. Toward the end, the kids and adults, at least this adult, alike began to degrade into basic component parts... crankiness, fidgetiness, and tiredness. Following this, I went to my parish to participate in a special Anniversary Mass. After it, a woman approached me to speak for a moment. She explained that she and her husband are Jewish but attended the Mass in solidarity with their friend. It was the second anniversary of her mother's death that day and ritual obligation compelled her to light a memorial candle that would last 24 days. She hadn't had the chance to do that on Friday but wanted me to know that the manner in which I read the reading I proclaimed had fulfilled the obligation for her.
I could do nothing but take her hand with tears free rolling down my face and a heart that was flowing thanksgiving to God like a waterfall. Thanksgiving for the courage to be there, for the grace that allowed my voice to bring comfort and serve, for the opportunity to simply act as God created me and have it mean something so significant to another. One person I told of this said, "Wow, that's really a heavy thing for her to lay on you." No! No! This was not a burden, but an exchange of grace. One of the purest experiences of gift I have ever known.
The next morning I went on a walk for women's cancers with a friend. The gathering of tens of thousands in Times Square was potent for me. So many people were walking in support or in memory of people they loved. I had my number and my own sign for way too many people I have known... My friend and I began to talk and I found myself telling her about my own major surgery in 2001 that was to take care of a serious pre-cancerous condition. All was removed and there has been nothing to worry about since. She looked at me, wiped a tear from my cheek, took my hand, and said simply "I'm glad you are still here." I don't often think of that surgery in terms of what it might have become or how close I came to something far worse. The walk was another opportunity to give thanks and commit fresh to doing something for those women and men who can not for whatever reason navigate the health care system of our country.
The walk was followed by an invitation to go with her to Long Island for several events happening that day. I agreed and we went, listening to music in the car the whole while. Windows down, music loud, both of us singing. It was a glorious time.
This morning was Mass followed by an art show where a friend had a gorgeous colored pencil drawing of flowers done in a multitude of shades of purple. I left from there and actually got lost for a mile or more while wandering in a part of Manhattan that I did not know. I finally found a subway line that would work for me and hied homeward.
My heart is so very, very happy right now. Happy and full...and grateful...and feeling free. Makes for good living as well as good sleeping.
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