Sunday, December 19, 2010

First Day Home

Lillian and I were fast asleep (she had slept over in my dorm room) when my phone rang violently at 10 am. I picked it up, groggy and confused, to my mother's voice: "I'm half an hour away! Are you girls ready to go?" We had no idea she was coming until that moment, but with admirable fortitude, we rallied enough to pack all our clothes and books for Christmas vacation by the time she arrived at the ND bookstore. Surprise surprise, she brought my littlest, darlingest sister Angela along, and Angela happily trooped up and down the stairs carrying things to the car for me. When we ran into my rector, Sister Denise, I made sure to inform her that Angela will surely be a Badin Bullfrog in 12 years.

A quick stop at the bookstore cafe for sustenance (I let Angela get gelato and we snuck a peek at Santa), then the drive home with Lillian and me as very grateful passengers. Really, who drives 2 hours just to load up the car and drive back again? My mom, that's who. She really is the best.

Despite my desire to sleep for the next millenia, my first day home was action-packed. I taught Angela how to knit (more on that later); we made a splash at the local Catholic bookstore, where we sang the praises of Veggie Tales to the bemused salesclerk; cooked dinner for the family (cute aprons and singing Taylor Swift, hooray) and then my dad took me Christmas shopping. We had fun scoping out gifts for the younger kids (we even went to Claire's! What an experience THAT was) and on the way home, stopped for a while at a coffee shop to talk. I suspect that those long, interesting talks with my dad must be his favorite part of having grown-up kids. He told me a story that was so good I had to share it with you:

Once there was a Jewish lawyer who was having troubles in his marriage and was unhappy with his life. He began coming to work earlier and earlier every day so as to get out of the house. His Wisconsin law office was at the bottom of a tall hill, and at the top of the hill stood a little Catholic church, with stairs cutting a path to its door. One day he arrived at work before 8 am and, standing before the window, saw a woman climbing the steps to the church. Up, up, up she went, probably on her way to 8 am Mass. The next day he noticed her again, climbing the hill at the same time. Soon it became a pattern; as the months passed, every morning, reliable as clockwork, he saw this lady walk up the hill to church.

One day in late November, the weather switched suddenly from balmy to frigid and a blizzard moved in overnight. Snow and ice poured down on the city, and in the morning, the lawyer could barely make it to work in his car. Surely the lady would stay inside today. But right on time, she appeared at the bottom of the hill as she always did and began the slow ascent. The stairs were so icy that she resorted to climbing on her hands and knees, albeit with gloves and boots. The lawyer watched in disbelief as she laboriously crawled up the hill and disappeared into the little church. Then he walked out and said to his secretary, "Cancel all of my appointments for today because of the weather. Now listen, you're Catholic, aren't you? Tell me this: what do you have in that church that is worth crawling to on your hands and knees??"

The secretary could only say, "You'd have to ask my mother." So the lawyer went over to the mother's house, and she talked to him for a long time about the Eucharist and the Church, plus gave him some books to read. In time, he converted to Catholicism. Through God's grace, he mended his marriage and he and his wife went on to have 5 or 6 more children. This story was told to my dad by that lawyer's son. The lawyer never met the woman whose daily climb to Mass converted him, but because of her silent witness, he, his wife, their many children and grandchildren all became Catholic. Imagine her surprise when she gets to Heaven - her surprise, and her joy.

Sorry if this story seems really preachy, but I loved it, and I hope you enjoy it too.

Tomorrow I'm making chocolate macaroons with Caroline. I haven't had good macaroons since London. So excited I can't wait!

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad that you were able to get a ride after all. Have a wonderful break!