Prosper the Work of Our Hands

downsized_0119151140aI just fin­ished the afghan at right, a gift to my son’s future in-laws. It was sup­posed to be a Christ­mas present. But I was so way­laid by the flu, so achy, I could hard­ly work on it. I start­ed it the week before Christ­mas and final­ly hob­bled to the fin­ish line with it on Jan­u­ary 19th. Well, it’s final­ly done, done well and it’s pret­ty, I think.…but late.

The afghan has a Father Michael con­nec­tion- that’s why it’s on this blog! Last year I made the same pat­tern for Father M in an ombre mix of autumn col­ors-though it was main­ly green. It took me three days tops to com­plete the blan­ket then.

I was in the habit of get­ting Father Michael small gifts and even non­sense things to cheer him up as he bat­tled his mal­a­dy. One day he was going on and on about some­thing real­ly appeal­ing to his ‘fem­i­nine side’, say­ing he need­ed to pay more atten­tion to ‘her’. I know very lit­tle about the anima/animus psy­chol­o­gy busi­ness. But to hear Father Michael elab­o­rate on it was hysterical.…and inspir­ing! I decid­ed to put togeth­er a ‘care pack­age’ for his neglect­ed ani­ma , whom I called ‘Michelle’ (real orig­i­nal, I know). Well Father Michael absolute­ly loved it. It was main­ly groom­ing items,unisex, but there were a few things like the mini sewing kit, the facial, the mir­ror and the lace doilies that screamed “I am woman”. I did won­der what Father did with that stuff. Lat­er he told me that the broth­ers kept a col­lec­tion of things that they gave as presents to St Pius staff;perhaps that’s where it went. Buuuut,sometime after­ward Father Michael did men­tion the love­ly scent­ed can­dles I’d includ­ed and declared “You know I wouldn’t mind some more of those cute lit­tle can­dles, I like to light them for when I have my bath”. Hard to keep a straight face with that holy man some­times!

Anyway,one day I vis­it­ed Father Michael at St Pius and saw that he had two or three woven throws in his liv­ing area. But there was noth­ing home­made that I could see. I decid­ed that I want­ed to make him a blan­ket. It was grat­i­fy­ing to buy him the instant tick­ets, the food and the flow­ers, but it wasn’t per­son­al. Yet, I knew that Father M just had tons of things in that place-per­haps he had many afghans, but all put away .  I went ahead and cro­cheted the afghan and enclosed a note with it.  I told Father Michael I want­ed to give him some­thing I’d made myself, cel­e­brat­ing our friend­ship. But I explained he was free to give it away if he want­ed. When he respond­ed, Father M said the “blan­ket is love­ly” and that he would trea­sure it. He told me that he kept it on his bed. So it was a worth­while effort and I’ll always know Father made use of my gift.

Inter­est­ing­ly, the blue blan­ket has anoth­er con­nec­tion. I’d used the same beau­ti­ful blue yarn to make anoth­er small gift. Father had been com­plain­ing about how his hands would get cold when he was in bed,  using his ipad. I decid­ed to make him fin­ger­less gloves, hop­ing they would help. Went to the store, checked out the black and the white yarns and some grey tweed ‚too. I thought ‘they must get tired of black and white’. I almost chose red,but set­tled on the blue. Took me an hour to knit the things, very sim­ple. I brought them to Father that after­noon. He wasn’t exact­ly thrilled, but insist­ed on try­ing them on. Still wasn’t too thrilled. So I said ” Well, I can tell they’re not your cup of tea, but maybe one of ‘the boys’ could use them?  I ‘m sure some of them get cold hands.” Father Michael took off the gloves , fold­ed them and then said vehe­ment­ly “Nope- they get NOTHING!”  I fig­ured ‘the boys’ must have been mis­be­hav­ing to elic­it that reac­tion out of Father M. I won­der if he ever used those things??? Such poignant memories.Glad for them.



On anoth­er note, here is a pic­ture of my beau­ti­ful Christ­mas tree. I am embar­rassed to say it is still up on Jan­u­ary 21. It still smells won­der­ful; it is a Fras­er fir. It’s a bit droopy now, but still hold­ing  most of its nee­dles. I guess one could say we cel­e­brate the 12 PLUS Days of Christ­mas! I think my flu delayed every­thing, so I am hav­ing the Christ­mas sea­son now.

It’s always hard to take the Christ­mas stuff down,but the tree will go out in the yard , where I will still enjoy it and the birds will use it for shel­ter. And in the spring , my hus­band will chop it up for mulch for the gar­den. It will smell good even then. Just couldn’t resist shar­ing the pic­ture.


Seeking and Seeing the Good

St Therese’s quote is pret­ty straight­for­ward. I think it sums up the best in Father Michael’s life: he was con­sis­tent­ly a tru­ly lov­ing per­son. Not that he nev­er cal­cu­lat­ed. No, he cer­tain­ly did -and there were some not-so-fine moments that I wit­nessed. But they were few and far between — a small reminder to me that all of us, even very holy peo­ple like Father Michael, are still sin­ners.

But the bulk of what I saw and heard of Father Michael was unmis­tak­ably lov­ing. He once told me “In the course of my life and my priest­hood, I have found that 99.9% of all peo­ple are good . And I do believe that all peo­ple are good.” I lis­tened to him and didn’t inter­rupt or  com­ment,  but real­ized how dif­fer­ent that was from my belief . I was more into “look­ing for the good” in folks and not usu­al­ly expect­ing to find it. In my heart, I didn’t feel that most peo­ple were good. I kind of saw them as flawed but decent, well-mean­ing for the most part-but not sim­ply as “good”. I was (and still am) wary, reserved and cau­tious. I con­sid­ered how dif­fer­ent my approach to oth­ers would be if I believed with all my heart that they were tru­ly, unques­tion­ably, good. How com­fort­able I would be ‚assured that oth­ers only thought the kind­est and best things about me! Know­ing that I was deal­ing with good peo­ple guid­ed by the truth would be reas­sur­ing and rein­force the pos­i­tive traits in my personality.Something to think about.

I con­sid­ered how Father Michael might incor­po­rate this atti­tude into his per­son­al­i­ty and life expe­ri­ence. And I remem­bered an inci­dent in a restau­rant where the young lady tak­ing his order assured Father Michael that he’d be able to self-serve cran­ber­ry juice. Giv­en the type of fast food place it was, I had my doubts. Sure enough, there was no cran­ber­ry juice on tap. Father M chose lemon­ade instead. But I was a lit­tle indig­nant and said “You asked that girl specif­i­cal­ly about the cran­ber­ry juice and she answered you specif­i­cal­ly!” I was con­sid­er­ing whether the place per­haps had bot­tled juice stored else­where-and that we should go back and ask her. But Father Michael just smiled at me and said sweet­ly “Oh she’s over­worked and under­paid, don’t wor­ry about it”. Well, shut my mouth! But I can see here not only Father M’s patience and char­i­ty in his empa­thy for the work­er, but also his will and kind­ness to ignore the bad-the girl’s dis­cour­tesy and her lie. A lit­tle thing again-with poten­tial.

Not long after, I had lunch again with Father Michael. It was one of the most inter­est­ing and infor­ma­tive con­ver­sa­tions I’d ever had with him. We talked unin­ter­rupt­ed for over two hours. At the very end Father Michael said “We’ve got to talk again. I want to tell you my idea that will solve all the prob­lems in the Church.” So I was think­ing “He waits till now to men­tion that ? “ I won­dered if he was jok­ing. I hadn’t even men­tioned any prob­lems in the Church! I thought “Well, he had to have shared that with his broth­ers already, I’m sure” And I thought, if so, it couldn’t be some­thing very obvi­ous or rev­o­lu­tion­ary, could it? Domini­cans were still being their Domini­can selves. Now I’ll nev­er know. But I have won­dered if Father Michael’s see­ing all peo­ple as tru­ly good was some­how part of the prob­lem-solv­ing.

I like the idea that in choos­ing to always see and expect only the good in peo­ple, Father Michael was express­ing his long­ing and love for God.….and prepar­ing the way.

Behold, the king­dom of God is among you.”
Luke 17:21