"I wish that these words of mine were written down;
incribed on some monument
with iron chisel and engraving tool, cut into the rock forever.
I would write that my Redeemer lived,
and that at the last, he will stand upon the earth.
After my awakening, he will set me close to him,
and from my flesh I shall look on God.
He whom I shall see will keep me safe." Job 19
This was the Old Testament reading at the Mass yesterday…what faith and consolation could be found in these words, the story of Martha annointing the feet of Jesus….thoughtfully composed prayers of the faithful…and so many other shared words. A very powerful moment was when the family…children and grandchildren… clothed our friend in white garments one last time…a white blanket was slowly pulled over…leaving you with the distant ‘memory’ of baptism and a sacramental life.
I joined a small group of ‘gypsys’…disconnected individuals, to play guitar and sing the songs that Mary would have loved. With a quick hour-long practice, God blessed us and we gave our hearts. The other musician who played with me was such a ‘natural’ and captured the sound through his guitar that I love so much…a simple, almost Orleans style….we complemented and supported one another and the church was filled with warm sound. I was glad for Mary, that I could be used in this way.
Lethbridge always brings a certain perspective home to me. Given countless long drives with my Grandfather in this area, as soon as the sky opens up, the golden-brown fields do as well…and I think of him. I remember the smell of the custom woolen mill…the musty smell of dried fields…the vast cloud formations. I think I draw on this memory again and again when I paint my landscapes.
On the edge of the city, where I attended University, I can look at the contours of the coulees and remember hiking north and south on the Oldman River. I can recall the steps to the land and the strain on the ‘up’ and the traversing of the ‘down’.
‘Mary’ brought me home to all of this for a brief time. I slept over at my dear cousins where I met her adult children and we talked into the night, just as we had under the bare light bulb of the mill. It was all so familiar…the stories…the laughter…the empathy for one another’s lives.
As I headed back to the family’s home after the Mass, I stopped to visit two people who grew to be dearest friends during my University years. Approaching their front doorstep, I heard the recitation of the rosary, and what a warm beautiful sense came over me! It was good to sit with them, for even a brief time, and to feel such love and constancy from them. Mary had such a devotion to Our Lady…in such a private way, I was able to share in this.
At the house, there was the sharing of documents, old black- and-white photographs, stories told, laughter and tears. A rich beautiful conversation was had that said, "You have been loved. You have been cherished. You have lived your life well."
In closing this morning, I would say that Mary’s life is chiseled on stone, alongside the promises of our God. She is redeemed.