Praying these days in preparation for my 25th anniversary persons and events which Jesus and Mary used to draw me from atheistic-Marxism and other addictions to the Catholic life of faith and trust in Jesus, keep coming into my heart.
Just today I was contemplating in the hermitage chapel, gazing upon two icons, recalling the woman who gifted them to me.
The events which led to our meeting and her gift occurred some thirty years ago after a series of front page articles and tv stories had been done about the work the unit I was assigned do were doing, especially at night, in child protection and juvenile crime.
One summer’s day I was informed a woman was at the front desk asking for me and when I went to see her I was struck by how old and exhausted she appeared.
She told me, in broken English, she was a widowed Russian émigré with one child, a teenage boy, who was missing and, she feared, involved in life on the streets.
Because she had seen me on the news she knew I could find him.
When she told me where she lived it was in a neighbouring city, outside our jurisdiction and so I offered to put her in touch with a contact in the other department.
She would have none of it insisting since ours was the larger city this is where the boy was and that only I could find him.
Admittedly this appealed to my ego more than did concern for her son and so as I was about to start my time off I agreed to look for him, figuring if nothing else this would send her on her way, as strangely there was a weird sense within me more was going on here than seemed apparent.
So I left her there at the front desk, return to the unit’s office, completed some paperwork, and headed out to the back to my car.
There she was, beside my car!
Don’t ask me a] how she got into that secure area nor b] knew which car was mine, but there she was, insisting she was coming with me!
I said, suddenly changing my plans, I was going to look for her son on foot and that given the hot and humid summer afternoon she really should go home and I would call her.
Abruptly I turned away and began walking further into the downtown.
I quickened my pace.
She kept up within a few yards of me.
In and out of various dives where juvenile hustlers, addicts and other lost hang-out; up and down various alleys, always with this frantic maternal shadow.
By late afternoon I was frustrated, finding no clue as to where the boy might be and even more furious I could not shake the maternal shadow, I suddenly spun around at one point, walked towards her, vented my anger and said I was through and, pushed past her, turned onto a pedestrian outdoor mall, immediately bumping into a little group consisting of an elderly priest and three women.
I recognized each one of them as people from my past, people consecrated to Christ in a lay community, people whose mission house was in a city hundreds of miles away.
Yet here they were.
And there she was, right on my heals.
Pushing past me the mother began to tell the priest what was going on, even as I was trying to talk and suddenly there I was surrounded by the mother, the three women, the priest and they are all asking Our Blessed Mother and the Angels: “Lead him to the boy that the child be returned to his mother.”
Filled with a mixture of terror and anger I pushed past them but it was more like I was being pushed and I headed to the street we had just come from, turned quickly down an alley, shouldered open a door, went, two at a time, up a flight of stairs, kicked in a door, grabbed a youth by the hair, yanked him to this feet, securing my grip on his shoulder with one hand, and bending, with a tight wrist hold, one arm and hustled him down the stairs, out the door, along the alley, across the street and shoved him into the arms of his weeping mother.
Several months later, Christmas Eve night, and the duty officer comes by my desk and drops a small package onto the desk saying some old woman left it for me with a simple message: “Thank-you.”
I opened the package.
There were two small icons:
Grace is all around us, Jesus is always seeking us, Our Blessed Mother urging us to “Do whatever He tells you.”
Sometimes we encounter Jesus, do what Mary asks, without really apprehending at the time the actual reality that is happening!
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