Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Veils

Tonight after Mass I was accosted but in order for you to understand the tale of happenstance I must back up approximately 2 hours to the time allotted for Reconciliation at our parish.

****DISCLAIMER**** - I am not "anti-city people".  I was one once.  For the sake of understanding this post please note that I attend a "small by your standards" Norvus Ordo parish that's 45 miles from the next priest available.  On a "good Sunday" we have approximately 150 people in attendance.  There's only 1 Mass per day, 2 to fulfill Sunday obligation.  This story occurs on a Saturday Vigil Mass when I usually attend since I'm too lazy to wake up early enough to attend the "early in the morning to me" Mass with the nearly 1 hour commute to get there.  I veil - I began the practice before I was even Catholic.  I often tie my veil under my hair so it isn't as noticeable as well as to prevent toddler hands from taking off with it. ****END DISCLAIMER****

My son's Mass clothes were in the car so after he changed I ran the ones he wore to town outside while he was spending some time recanting to Father one half of the tale he would inevitably hear about our family that evening.  When I came back in an elderly gentleman who appeared to be of "city origins" was standing in the back of the parish floundering around a bit.  He saw me and came over and quietly asked where the confessions were being held.  I pointed to the door behind me (unmarked, no lights, could be a broom closet for all he knew) and told him they were there.  Full of anxiety he asked me of there was a screen and I told him our parish's "set up" (a chair and a place to kneel with a small curtain and a short wall and then you can walk around and sit/kneel with Father and a 6 ft. crucifix if you prefer).  He went and sat down and I thought we were done.

I knelt down behind the last pew and started my own examination of conscience and a few minutes later he came and tapped me on the shoulder and asked if he could bother me.  Of course I stopped for a minute and agreed.  He asked how he would know it was time to go in.  I told him when the door is open, you can enter.  The next person out would be my son and he was more than welcome to go next, I needed more time anyway.  He thanked me and went back to his seat.

I didn't see him again afterwards due to "the usual mommy things" and trying to get in some spare prayer time so when I noticed him at the end of Mass still in his pew after I finished my prayers I thought I might have a chance to make sure all was well and wish him safe travels on the way home.  I ended up walking out silently near this gentleman and a lady in a veil who appeared to be his wife.  

As we walked out she reached up and removed her veil and I took off the long scarf I was wearing in lieu of a veil that week.  She immediately turned as she saw the flash of blue to the side of her and realized what I'd done.  Halting in her tracks she spins on one heel and says "OH!  You wear one too!"  I gently started to explain I tie it under my hair due to the toddler but quickly ran out of breath as I was squished half to death by this tiny woman in glee.  She turns to me and says, "You know, there are more of us" as if she is imparting some kind of massive secret. 

I smiled and told her I knew and we began to part ways, her recounting the encounter of the strange woman who actually veils at the N.O. parish in the middle of nowhere to her husband and I began to gather wool in my head about what a delight it was to meet her and the "Sisterhood of Veils" that exists across the world. 

Whatever your veil is made of, be it the finest French or Spanish lace as hers was or the far more humble $5 Walmart clearance polyester scarf I had on my head know that it's about so much more than you.  Your veil is your connection to Mary and to God but it's also your connection to hundreds of thousands, possibly even millions of women who veil around the world in humble grace and awe of His Divine Presence.

And if anyone knows who this delightful little woman was, please tell her she brought a huge smile and one of the best hugs I've had in months to this "strange woman who actually veils at the N.O. parish in the middle of nowhere".  I've never gotten a hug at church before other than my toddler.  It was a refreshing experience.  May the Lord bless her and her husband and their travels and may they reach wherever home is safely.

Friday, September 5, 2014


Today the Lord gifted me with some spare time for reflecting on things.  I am always grateful when those moments come - to see how far we have gone and what we have accomplished; to see the ways, both miniscule and ginormous, that God has been working in my life.

It's been 13 months since my husband was taken out of work due to the worsening of his disability.  Some things haven't changed one bit.  We still live in the same home, go to the same church, drive the same car, homeschool, etc. In fact on the exterior I don't think many people have noticed much of a change, if any.

At times, much to my fury, other things that have not changed: his disability is *still* not improving enough for him to return to work and the therapists say it could take 3-5 years.  Despite this information the VA refuses to up his disability rating because "there's a chance at recovery".  *sigh*  Great.  What about NOW?

It's the interior of our lives that has changed so much.  I pray more.  I've learned to trust God more.  I've spent more time with my family than I've ever been blessed with in 12 years of marriage. I've been given the distinct opportunity from God to fall in love with my husband all over again.  I've had the chance to see more of the state of Montana than ever before thanks to a wide variety of doctor's appointments all over the state.

My oldest son has gone from being a Cub Scout to a Boy Scout.  He is now dual enrolled in 2 troops and so busy I can barely keep him where he needs to be.  Our youngest has passed his second birthday and discovered the word "spaz", much to his delight and our chagrin.

My husband has gone through many phases: exhausted from trying to keep up a charade of health to scrambling to try and fix his health to where he sits now, the proud owner of his own business who is working on his dreams. He has grown so much, especially as a father.  He has time for the boys now and they can't imagine a world where that goes away again.

Friends have come and gone and come again.  These are the moments in your life when you find out where people truly stand.  Do they *really* have your back or are they just more fair-weather friends who bail out of the ship the very moment things don't go their way?  I am grateful for the new ones in my life but I am even more grateful God gave me yet another opportunity to sort the wheat from the chaff.

To those who have prayed: Know that God has heard you and that we could not possibly be more thankful for His new plans for our life. 

To those who have left: Thank you for getting out of the way so God prepare us for even greater things.

To those who have stayed: Thank you for sojourning on with us.

So often in my life I find myself reflecting back to works of literature I have read and seeing how the meanings morph and shift as I grow older.  This particular poem is one we have all heard but many do not know the actual story behind it.

From 1912 to 1915 Robert Frost traveled to England where he developed a friendship with another writer named Edward Thomas.  The two frequently took long walks together and Edward's frequent issues with indecision on which way to travel further led to Mr. Frost penning this now famous poem with tongue in cheek about his friend's difficulty when they came to a crossroads. 

Mr. Thomas took the poem far more seriously than it was intended as did the rest of America, much to Mr. Frost's chagrin.  It became his final push of inspiration to join the British Army in World War I.  Two short years later, shortly after arriving in France, he was killed on April 9, 1917 in the Battle of Arras.

Much like Mr. Thomas, this poem has meant so much more to me than a jest between friends.  I apologize to Mr. Frost for not taking his words at face value but sometimes the Lord gives us the ability to write something that is truly meant to mean something very different for others.  Every songwriter in the world can attest to this happening to them, yours truly included.

The Road Not Taken
By Robert Frost
(first published in 1916 in the collection Mountain Interval)

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.