The other day, Mary Alice and I were driving around, listening to 1940’s music when I found myself outside the cemetery where my mother’s remains are held. I’ve driven past this place several times in the past, but have never stopped to pray or talk or whatever folks do at cemetery’s before. My personal belief is my mother’s corpse may be there, but she’s not. She’s in heaven…therefore I don’t need to stop by the cemetery; yet here I was. I pulled up to the mausoleum which stores her body, excused myself from Mary Alice for a moment then approached my mother’s grave site. “Mom, I don’t know why I’m here. I just am. Maybe going to prison this weekend is weighing on me more than usual…but…I felt compelled to see you. I miss you. I love you. I wish you were here so I could talk to you about everything….but you’re not. In fact you’re not even here….” I said, backing up from the monument. I added a “Hail Mary” prayer for good measure then got back into my car, smiled at Mary Alice and then drove away; still wondering how I got there.
When my mom was dying, she challenged her children to “Live your faith” which meant absolutely nothing to me at the time. I was divorced from our church, allowing cynicism to be my calling card. While I searched out ways to bring me back to the love and care I had felt as a child; I fought the idea with equal vim and vigor. When she passed away, I needed to find my faith…because I needed the reassurance that Mom was in heaven. I needed to transform.
“I AM NO DIFFERENT THAN YOU. I AM A SINNER. I DO BAD THINGS… JUST GROW CLOSER TO JESUS AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER, LOVE ONE ANOTHER, THAT’S WHAT ITS ALL ABOUT, JESUS AND LOVE” My friend Debbie said into the microphone, before she realized she had said it. The four of us standing in in the middle of a large circle, surrounded by 140 men and a few women; 95 of which were inmates at a medium security prison in Mansfield, Ohio. We had just completed our clown/mime skit ministry ( https://marsha8of9.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/a-privilege/) and were about to depart for home when the Deacon/Chaplin of the prison handed her his microphone. She rambled for a minute before she stopped and uttered those words…connecting us to the male inmates.
What separates us: Luck? Good Choices?
Family? Respectful Home life? Friends?Love?
Yesterday following morning mass, I approached Mike and Therese, two of the lay ministers who were at the prison for the entire retreat, to see how things went overall. “Your parents should be very proud of you Marsha, especially your mom.” She said. I smiled at her proclamation and then left to walk home. “Mom I think I know why I stopped by the cemetery last week…” I said as I walked, “I guess I’ve found my faith and I’m living it–just as you asked. Thank you for giving me that last gift. Thank you for allowing me to see the blessings I have around me. Thank you for loving me. Thank you God for all of the above.