One of the most important parts of our healing retreats is the small group time.…
Maria, a missionary, very humbly called to ask if she could stay with me for 10 days at the end of July, while her community traveled outside the country. Looking at the calendar, I knew it was going to be a busy time for me, but I said, “Sure! Of course you may come, Maria! I’d love it! Just be forewarned, it will be a very full visit!” She was happy and up for the challenge.
Maria arrived at the train station with a bouquet of fresh magenta flowers and a big bright smile. We hugged and promptly drove off to my choir rehearsal and then home for a late dinner. My husband was traveling for a week, so we had the house to ourselves. Girl time! But I felt weary and not at my best to welcome a friend into my home and daily routines. My life felt rather ragged and messy at the moment, stuffed to the brim and toppling over. I could hardly keep up with it. And now I had someone at my side and ready to help me at every turn. A sweet friend, open and available, and… seeing all my scraggly imperfections. It was easy to welcome Maria. She is so dear and sweet and kind and oodles of fun! But it was not easy to welcome myself exposed in my flaws and weaknesses.
Maria and I had many adventures together! “Non-stop!”, as we kept exclaiming. We harvested berries, green beans, tomatoes, and flowers at a local farm share. We went on visits to my elderly friends and brought Communion to the homebound. We went to a women’s Sunday luncheon. We took bread loaves to homeless friends downtown. We visited art galleries and shared deeply with artist Christiane David, who kindly gave us special handmade treasures. We toured the Amish market and went on Rosary walks through the neighborhood. We went for ice cream cones at night and watched The Chosen with delight. We went to friends’ homes for visits and sharing. We prayed a lot together. And we laughed and laughed and laughed until we cried. We discovered we are truly sisters.
As the days went on, I realized the cost of having someone close enough to see my ruffled edges was well worth it. She was also close enough to love me there. Soon my ruffled moments became accompanied moments. I was no longer alone in all of my little comings and goings that usually only God sees – getting in and out of the car, putting on my lipstick, walking to Mass, eating breakfast. There beside me was Maria. And not only that, but in every encounter with an old friend or new, there she was! Open-hearted and eager to meet and love the person in front of us. I felt so loved by Maria’s instant love for each of my friends. She took time to know them and seek their hearts, to see their beauty. What a gift to hear her gaze of love and wisdom for each friend. So deep and so simple. Maria said she felt she knew each of my friends through the Rosary beads that unite us, through Mary’s Heart. What rejoicing! I felt my heart’s calling no longer isolated! I have a true friend, a true sister in heart, mind, and mission! What a joy to share in this charism of compassion.
And so, in the midst of my crumbly, fumbly, full, blessed life, Mary came to my side! Mary came through Maria. Standing at the foot of my cross, as we stood together at the foot of each friend’s cross.
Thank you, dear Maria!
Thank you, Mama Mary!
Copyright 2021, Marian Veilleux