Planting Love and Seeing Its Flowering: The Two Ends of Life in a Weekend
In the life of a Catholic community, all of the events of life are celebrated by gathering for liturgy. Most of us don’t see the ebb and flow of joyful and sorrowful events clearly in our day-to-day lives, though parish staff do. Saturday and Sunday this past weekend, the rhythm was clear for all to experience.
A wonderful, long-term member of the parish was killed in a traffic accident. Blessedly, the three passengers in her vehicle survived, but she died at the scene. Because she had been so involved in the life of our community, most people knew her and her family. The church was as full on Saturday morning for her funeral as for a normal Sunday morning “family” Mass. We cried, laughed, remembered, sang, and prayed with her family for a couple of hours, then joined together for a feast in the hall, courtesy of the Women’s Guild. We all went home afterward with many memories shared and a certain numbness at the way all can change in a instant – the ephemeral quality of our time here on earth, the strength of faith and love shared in family life, and the many ways an individual in her life touches those around her.
Sunday morning, many of us gathered again in the same space for liturgy. This time as we walked in the door, the many visitors were smiling and towels, candles and baptismal oils were waiting near the font from which we take water to bless ourselves as we enter and leave our sacred space. The water was warmed and the Easter candle was again burning. This time, two babies awaited entry to our Catholic family. The love of their families and friends was plain to see, and the joy of the community welcoming them was clear. The joy of their baptisms, after the sadness of the prior day, raised everyone’s spirits.
It’s not often that we see the two ends of life in a community so clearly. The same Easter candle — once welcoming new lives into the community and once reminding everyone of the life lived in faith by one of its members. The same white garments, the same Eucharist shared, the same wish shared that all would live in “the Peace of Christ.”
Jessica Powers’ poem, “The Flower of Love,” spoke to me in this experience. Reflecting on the experience of planting the seed of love in soil that had never seen it, then cultivating and supporting the love that grows, she proclaims:
“Blessed are they who battle jest and scorn
to keep love growing
from embryo immaculately born
to blossom showing.
Primarily for them will petals part
to draw and win them.
It, when the pollen finds their opened hearts,
will bloom within them.”
Poem from, The Selected Poetry of Jessica Powers
Image by Chris Nyborg – GNU Free Documentation License