I won’t be celebrating at the Sunday services on Sunday. I leave for Birmingham tomorrow and Juanita’s funeral will be on Saturday. I get back to Fort Lauderdale on Sunday evening, in time to stop and see my girl one last quick time before flying west on Monday.
I knew I had to leave more consecrated bread and wine for the Sunday service than we had and in the Episcopal Church we consecrate sacraments at the Eucharist itself. This morning, with very little planning, I ended up having Eucharist with about 10 other people, all of us women, all of us Latinas. I had pulled out the service leaflets for the Eucharist we used to celebrate at the storefront chapel when I first became involved in community ministry. The Eucharistic Prayer was written by a Latino professor at General Theological Seminary in New York–it is evocative of the landscapes of our countries, it uses language that grates, even in translation, for many who have not come here as immigrants but for those of us who were shaped by that experience, it offers solace, even redemption for some of the harshness of immigration.
Instead of the usual Prayers of the People, everyone offered spontaneous prayers and because we were also remembering Sherod’s mama, we prayed for our own, and for ourselves as mothers. The very last woman to offer her prayers is a beautiful young woman who’s youngest is known as ‘cachetes’ (cheeks). His little face is simply delicious and when he breaks into a smile it almost gets lost in chubby, gorgeous cheeks. At the end of the prayer she looked right at me and said she wanted to become one of the sheep of this sheepfold. For three years she has attended Sunday services quite faithfully and never come up to communion. Today she did. Today most of us wept through most of the Eucharist.
Draw near. Enter. Come, then.
There was all kind of busy-ness that followed. The pets are now with their respective ‘angels of mercy’ who will tend to them until Sherod returns from Selma. There were any number of loose ends to tie up and they all got done. Since Sunday I’ve been battling yet another round of bronchitis and and this time I keep losing my voice.
Be still. Wait without words, I am told.
Finished with my work duties, I went to get my girl, Maria for a couple of hours. Even though she is still struggling, the staff at BARC and I agreed that she and I needed to have some time together and at the end of the visit, when she was safely back at BARC I would tell her about her grandmother’s death. It didn’t work out quite as I had planned and as we were on I-95, headed back to BARC, it became clear that I needed to tell her. When I explained that Annaw had died and I was headed to Alabama tomorrow to be with Daddy for the funeral, this was the conversation:
Maria: Is my daddy OK?
Me: Yes, love, he is OK; he’s a little sad, but glad that Annaw isn’t hurting any more.
Maria: Mami, do you think Annaw already met Marta Isabel? (Marta Isabel is Maria’s birth mother–our girl sometimes refers to her as mom, sometimes by name).
Me: Oh sweetie, I’m sure she did.
Maria: What do you think Marta Isabel said to her.
Me: I imagine she wanted to know about you and Annaw was able to tell her what a beautiful young woman you are growing up to be.
Maria: Mom, you know that Lion King song about dying and they live? The one that made you sad and you cried because of your mom?
Me: I do. You mean They Live in You?
Maria: That one. Can we listen to it?
So we did. Maria helped me find it on my iPhone and we kept driving down the highway, listening. As it ended, she said, “Now Annaw lives in me too”. Indeed, my child. Indeed.
Alone this evening, I am packing up for the retreat, giving the house a once-over so Sherod comes back to a nice clean home. A while ago, I stopped to look at the video I made right before Maria went into BARC.
This is the invitation to start finding my way into the silence.