Sunday, October 25, 2015

LOOKING FORWARD AND BACKWARD

This past weekend, I participated in our parish's fall festival, which is one of our major fundraisers as well as a way to build community among the parishioners.  Last year I contributed a basket of greeting cards to the craft booth, and I would have split the proceeds with the parish.  I said "would have" because none of the cards sold.  When I picked up my basket, the woman in charge sat me down and gave me some of the feedback she had heard, which was very helpful, and it was kind of her to take the time to give some good advice to someone new in running a business, since she had run a successful business for many years.

This year, my business partner and I had three racks of 190 cards, and we had cut our prices drastically since last year, and had many new cards for sale.  I also volunteered to help with the craft area, both in setting up and in helping people to find things and in selling.  I stayed for most of the two nights and was able to point out my cards to many of the parishioners who came, most of whom had no idea I made cards or ran a business.  We sold 35 cards, and I had orders for five more, and got many ideas for cards that people were looking for that we don't make yet.  I don't know if I sold enough that I will be able to sell them in the new parish gift shop, but I learned a great deal from the people I spoke with, and also ran into some parishioners whom I hadn't seen since the days when we both had children in the school together.  It was enjoyable to interact with so many long-time and new friends, and to see the parish becoming even more alive as a result of the festival.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

ALWAYS IN MY HEART

Recently, our parish began a group as a ministry to parents who have lost children through miscarriage, stillbirth, or other tragedies such as SIDS.  A couple of young mothers who had recently been through miscarriages prompted the formation of the group, and when we first met we had a woman who had lost a baby boy to SIDS, the mother of a stillborn boy and the grandmother of a stillborn boy, the two young mothers, as well as myself who had lost a baby early in pregnancy when I was forty-five.  At our first gathering we shed a lot of tears as we shared our experiences, the belief that losing a baby to miscarriage somehow doesn't "count" in a society that allows unborn babies to be killed up to the moment of birth, and the loneliness of continuing to grieve our lost child or children when the rest of the world seems to expect us to move on quickly.  People trying to be kind told us, "You can always have another one," as if they were toys that could just be duplicated, "there might have been something wrong with it," as if we would love our child less if there were, or even that he or she might have turned out to be a criminal. A bond was forged among us all by our shared sorrow and our determination to offer help to any other parents who needed our love and support.

Our new pastor has been amazing in helping us move the ministry forward.  He told us we could have a place on the church property for a garden of remembrance, and while we originally thought we would have a spot in the area where the outdoor Stations of the Cross are, when we met next, our leader excitedly led us to an area right outside the front of the church, where there is a low wall, and told us that they were going to put in a Garden of the Angels, with two statues they had found in the church office building, some new plants, a bench, and little stones that people could have engraved with the names of the children who left us before we could get to know them.  We had a dedication Mass, the garden was blessed, and we have over a hundred stones with the names of our babies.  

We're preparing now for our next Mass, to be celebrated on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is the patroness of the unborn, we have a notice in our weekly bulletin that we are here to love and support anyone who has experienced such a loss, and it is a way to harness our own sorrow in order to reach out with healing to others.

Monday, October 5, 2015

SHAKESPEARE AND THE MAGIC OF CONNECTION

I am including a poem I wrote recently to share the magic of an evening when we went to a Shakespeare play (actually NOT Midsummer Night's Dream)--though there will probably be another blog entry about a production of that play that was twenty years in the making--and the music, the enchantment of Shakespeare and the embrace of the warm night spun into poetic flight.

MIDSUMMER EVE IN TOWN


Stars shimmied down
infinitesimal tendrils of light
crowding close
and wrapping the indigo
sky around our shoulders.

I told my husband I loved the music
woven through Shakespeare
and a young man walking ahead
turned around and said,
“Thank you.  I wrote it,”
and he was as near
as the gathering stars

and warm breath of the night.