A few weeks ago Richard and I celebrated twenty eight years of marriage. I began the day in my usual fashion, out on the lanai having my quiet time with God. My husband was inside having his quiet time too, and through the open door I could feel the connection as we each experienced our own unique relationship with God. As I read my various daily reflections, the meaning of that day slowly sank in.
We had known each other for almost twenty nine years. I met Richard towards the end of July 1983, and we married on 24 March 1984. It was a bit of a scary time for me. I had been married once before for almost ten very unhappy years and it had been ten years since I had separated and consequently divorced that man. I had lived much of that previous marriage emotionally alone, and had become very independent and self-sufficient in the ensuing ten years. Oh, and did I mention that Richard is almost twenty years my junior??
I thought back to that time after Richard asked me to marry him and remembered how much praying and self-questioning I went through. I had also insisted that we speak with the priest and go through counseling, and then I went on a retreat to distance myself from the relationship for forty eight hours, just to have some clarity and see if I had any different thoughts and feelings about the situation. After doing everything I thought I should do to be sure of how I felt, we went ahead and married.
I sat there on the twenty fourth of March this year with a very full heart as I traveled back in time, and the prevailing thought was “where had all those twenty eight years gone?”. The words from a well-known Christian song came to mind: “in the blink of an eye”. As I said goodbye to Richard that morning (he had a day-long class he had to attend), I remembered our first real kiss. It had me blushing for a moment because it was a very incredible and passionate kiss and I remember thinking that I could just have floated off in that kiss all those years ago. But it was also a very tender kiss, and I think that’s what sold me on Richard from the very first – he was such a tender person. Tender-hearted as a person as well as tender towards me, and others.
If I needed any other evidence of the years we have been together, we have a twenty seven-year old daughter, Melissa, who is proof-positive that all those “blink-of-an-eye” years really existed. I remember very well appearing in a play, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, when I was about six months pregnant with her, and my eldest son, Marco, from my first marriage, break dancing day in and day out during the pregnancy. Melissa was born to the rhythm of break dance.
While Richard was in class, I got on with my day and couldn’t help but notice in great detail the contents of our home, which is something between an art gallery and a curio shop. There are paintings and photos all over the walls. The paintings come from many different places that either Richard has travelled to during his years in the Navy or that we both have travelled to together. Then there are the statues and figurines that cover every shelf and available surface throughout the house. Many people are quite taken aback when they visit our home for the first time because of all “the stuff”. But everything is a joyful representation of the years that we have been together and the memories that we have created.
When Rich came home from class, we got ready to go out and celebrate our anniversary. First we went to the El Apache restaurant to enjoy a delicious Mexican meal. With tummies pleasantly full we then headed over to the Thrasher-Horne Center for Arts to see a show. A few weeks earlier, at a silent auction fund-raiser at our church, we had won the bid on two tickets for The Peking Acrobats which were dated twenty four March. I think the only reason we bid on them was because the date was the same as our anniversary. The show was quite breathtaking and very exciting and it was a great way to celebrate the day.
However, we didn’t quite finish the celebrations at that point. Instead of heading home, Richard pointed the car in the other direction. You see, he has an absolute weakness for Shakes, a small drive up cubicle that sells shakes and sundaes made with frozen custard. And so we completed our evening enjoying our favorites: for Rich this was a strawberry milkshake, extra thick; for me it was a kiddy-cup with one small scoop of vanilla frozen custard topped with a healthy drizzle of caramel – yum. A perfect finish to a perfect evening, and here’s to number twenty nine!!
As I gathered my thoughts together to begin writing about the Healing Prayer Mission at our church last February, I realized that to tell that story I had to go back to October 2008. Without the events of October 2008, we would not have had the Healing Prayer Mission this year. Back in 2008, I crossed paths with a fellow parishioner and friend, Guy, and he told me about a conference that was to take place in Jacksonville, Florida in a couple of weeks.
He knew that I was a Reiki Practitioner and that I referred to myself as a “healer”. The conference was a joint effort of the International Catholic Charismatic Movement and Christian Healing Prayer Ministries and was focused on today’s need for Christians to recognize that Jesus invited us, the church, to continue his work. “Those who follow Me will do not only the works I do but greater works.” (John 14:12-14) After speaking with, Guy I realized that the conference was a week long and would cost quite a bit of money. However, he gave me a name and number to call and invited me to trust.
The next day I called the number and told the gentleman on the other end of the phone that Guy had told me to call. He said, “Ah yes, you need a scholarship; I’ll see you at the conference”. I was blown away. This was no two cent deal. So a week later I attended my first day. I remember feeling a little cautious as I wasn’t quite sure whether I could handle this “charismatic” stuff. By lunch time I was raising my hands to the heavens and praising along side hundreds of strangers from countries all over the globe.
I thoroughly enjoyed the next few days. The people were joyous and worshipped God joyously. The presentations were both informative and interesting. I loved the informal music group and it was easy to begin to feel free and unrestrained as I learned to worship God in another way, no holds barred. Every evening at the end of all the presentations and teaching, Mass was said at 5pm by a different priest. Their were priests from all over the world in attendance and it was beautiful to experience the Mass celebrated by priests from different countries.
On the Thursday evening I had already planned to leave at the end of the presentations because there was an activity that I normally participated in with my Yoga group, and I didn’t want to miss it. However as 5pm rolled on I felt compelled to stay for Mass. I sat quietly waiting and the music group began playing the entrance hymn. People began singing and clapping. Suddenly I was aware of a wave of energy coming from behind me. I turned around and I’m sure my mouth must have gaped open.
There was a large colorful group of people coming down the center aisle. Men and women of different nationalities dressed in their native costumes swung down the aisle smiling, clapping their hands, and singing joyously. Bringing up the rear and rocking and rolling down the aisle was this tall priest who had an energy, a charisma about him that I have rarely experienced in a member of the clergy. As I watched the procession make its way down the aisle I was aware of one strong thought in my head: I have to get this priest to our church; we need this priest at our church.
By the end of Mass and after experiencing his wonderful homily, I was more than determined to make this my goal. My friend Guy was helping behind the scenes at the conference, so before leaving after Mass I sought him out and gave him my “mandate”: whatever you do please get contact information for this priest. And so it came about that Fr. Jim Curtin from St. Dennis’ Parish in Wisconsin came in 2010 to give us our first Lenten Healing Prayer Mission and returned again in Lent this year. My church has never been the same since and we now have our own blossoming Healing Prayer Ministry. Alleluia!!