Early yesterday morn, before the long trek to Sunday Mass, I wrote to a friend that I would be praying for November direction at Mass that day. November is traditionally the Catholic month for the Holy Souls and there are prayers and novenas towards that intention. But as the Fatima Rosary month of October for me turned out to be about Angels, I thought I’d just ask God to point me in the direction He has willed.
Of course, being who I am, the minute I arrived at church, I promptly forgot about that intention. I was so focused on some friends who had asked for prayers and on taking the Holy Souls along for Mass, that November Direction never crossed my mind.
Until about midway through Father’s sermon. I’ve one or two struggles with my parish priest, one great one being his sermons. Father’s the reflective sort but much like a bunny in bursts of hurry. He scurries everywhere in his sermon and I mean everywhere. You’d get mentally breathless trying to keep up. Since I have the unfortunate penchant of dreaming off, I’m always playing catch up and almost always, the minute I reach one point he is at, before I can even unpack it, Father would have hopped off in a totally different direction.
At one point, trying to quell the rising tide of irritation and trying to be more charitable towards Father, Someone took my eyes and turned me towards the right side of the altar. It is the practice in my church where the various residential area groups named after saints take turns to animate the Mass. The animating group for the week will have a banner of its patron saint up to the right of the altar.
And that day, it was St. Francis of Assisi. My saint of the Blue King call. The very one whose presence for me means, Quieten Down, Listen Up.
He had come near that recent visit to our families’ resting place. And here he was again before me, right in the middle of Father’s sermon.
I wondered if it meant St. Francis was asking me to quit wriggling and to pay attention to my priest. Chastened, I quickly ran back to Father’s sermon and tacked myself there till the end of it, from time to time, casting wary glances at St. Francis ‘in the corner’. But by the end of it, I wasn’t any clearer on what it was that I needed to hear.
Undeterred, I remained on full alert now. I wondered if St. Francis wanted me to read something and meditate on it for November. That appealed to me and by the end of Mass, I was certain there was something for me. I thought I’d ask Fr. He was sure to have a book on St. Francis.
We went to Fr as a family as Fr stood at the church doors after Mass, chatting with parishioners and I asked Fr if he had any books on St. Francis.
And right in front of the kids whose ears were all pricked up, Fr replied that he was searching for the book on St. Francis’ love affair with St. Clare.
I wanted to stuff wool into my kids’ ears and hustle them out of the church. I don’t sugarcoat the church to the kids. But after a morning sermon that included ‘sex’, ‘sexuality’, ‘hiding sexuality behind doors’ and ‘let kids eat what they want’ but leaving all those ends hanging, not tying them up, I wasn’t in the mood to clean up after Fr.
We hurriedly moved on before Fr revealed any more interesting nuggets. Obviously, no matter what I felt or how strongly, I admitted to myself that Fr wasn’t likely to be part of November Direction.
My husband and I had planned to get a head start on Christmas shopping as we did last year so that it didn’t interfere with the quietening Advent calls us to. But my husband squeezed in an unscheduled errand. As a result, we were late getting to the mall and plans didn’t work out. If we lived within minutes of any mall, it wouldn’t have been frustrating. But our home was a good two hours from the city through pretty treacherous stretches of roads. Any shopping, anything to be done in the city had to be planned carefully and of course, timing was imperative. Any delay and we’d be stuck in town till very late and then having to make the return journey along badly lit roads. So, I was deeply annoyed with my husband. When I get that way, I have to let the molten lava out or it’ll explode at some point during the week.
But this time, searching for the inner plug to release my anger, I couldn’t find it.
Instead, within me, I sensed a firm, unyielding quietness. As if someone was already there in charge and anger had no place on his watch.
After a few more pokes that yielded nothing, I decided to focus on my family instead. So, we went to a less crowded mall. In a pleasant turn of events, we got good stuff there at good prices. It took hours to get things for everyone and my feet and back were killing me but they were hours of giggles and laughter and patience.
That was a little miracle. Having kids with very firm ideas on what they want and don’t want, we’re always short of patience on shopping trips. But that wasn’t the case this time.
The quiet within didn’t allow any of us to venture into steaming geysers.
Awakening today to a rain-soaked morning of shy sunlight peeking through the dew~blessed greens, some part of my spirit must have asked God about November.
In answer, my memory was gently turned to the note I sent my friend early yesterday. We had been talking about prayers we were now being called to. He was saying the Novena of Surrender. I told him I didn’t feel called to it. My spirit wasn’t done yet with Pull It Out By The Roots.
And then I wrote that what I did sense was a quietening. A quiet that was slowly silvering into the folds and creases of my heart in busy November.
A quiet coming early this year. For some reason.