It is snowing again. Not surprising for winter in New England. Thankfully I have no place to go today and I can enjoy the beauty from my window and later experience it more personally outside with my shovel.
We are still awaiting the repair on Andy’s truck to be completed which means I have been without a vehicle for many days in the past month. I have tried to use the homebound time to good purpose, finishing up some long-postponed projects and finding others buried under piles.
One little sewing job that I accomplished last week might strike the average person as a bit unusual. I pulled out an envelope from the wooden trunk of Tim’s mementos and found the plain white envelope marked, “Tim’s last haircut”. At the funeral home before securing the top of Tim’s casket, Andy snipped a little clump of hair to save as a family relic. As Tim’s barber it was fitting that he be the one to perform this last service.
In the weeks following the funeral I had made a little brown cloth rectangle to house some of the hair and attached it to my brown scapular so I would have a little piece of Tim close by. For those familiar with the concept of saintly relics in the Catholic tradition, perhaps it does not seem too odd. I lost the last relic, though, sometime in the past year and so set about making a new little cloth envelope to house another few pieces of hair.
I find hand sewing very relaxing and if the house is quiet it provides the perfect moment for meditation. I thought about how dear our family is to us and how deeply we miss those who “have gone before us marked with the sign of faith”.
Pondering this train of thought a bit I remembered a little boy in a Boston hospital that we were praying for. Emails had gone out and were sent around asking others to pray for young Matthew. We could all put ourselves in the place of the parents in their concern for their suffering child.
Later when we heard of Matthew’s death, we all mourned, despite the fact that we had never met this lively ten year old. As a child of God he was another brother, son or friend we had never had the privilege of knowing, but whom love compelled us to pray for.
I remembered the weeks after our son Paul was diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was seven. With no internet then, I made phone calls and sent our postcards to all those on my Christmas Card list begging for the help of their prayers. Everyone was generous, even those who did not know our family. In the attic I still have a box of construction paper pages that children in Argentina made, lettering on them the little sacrifices that they would make for Paul’s recovery.
The prayer of intercession is a necessity for us; part of the design of Christ who admonished us to “love one another as I have loved you.” It is one of those essential components of Christianity without which we cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven. Think of intercession as the act of a spiritual “Good Samaritan”.
In a biography called, Edith Stein, Modern Saint and Martyr, Joanne Mosley writes that St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross saw intercession as hospitality. She was moved by the plight of the Jewish people in Nazi occupied countries; her people. She considered the Old Testament witness of Queen Esther standing before King Ahasuerus and begging for the deliverance of the Jews. As Esther stood before the King in her bravery, Edith would stand before God interceding that doors of hospitality be open to them. But it was not physical intercession or hospitality that she could offer, but spiritual. We open up the doors of our hearts to others with the prayer of intercession.
Here is Joanne Mosley explaining:
When Edith stepped out of the parlor, she had welcomed her visitors into ‘the lodgings of [her] heart’; then, before the tabernacle, she handed them over, taking them ‘home to [her] Saviour’s heart’. And so the chain would continue, Jesus handing over to the Father in turn: ‘He fetches you home to his Father’s kingdom.’ Intercession is hospitality. It is always in movement, it never stops at our door. For our hearts are only ‘lodgings’, temporary shelters on the path to God, our true home. It has been rightly said that without God, we will always be homeless.
In the end, this particular meditation comes back to Tim once more as I set down my needle and thread. It was the poor, little homeless orphans that held Tim’s heart’s door open to intercession.
If you know of any orphans, guide them to homes where people are to take care of them. If there are any around here (Do you know of any orphans around here, Mom?) send them to our house. Help us find space for them and money to buy their clothes and help the prices of food to be low so people could buy food for them. Amen.
This is how I see Tim begging with the little birdseed of his prayer: