Tuesday, November 2, 2010

All Souls Day 2010

“I am sorry. It actually seems to be a problem with the hard drive.”

I knew to sit quietly. I took in the information with a look of courage to match the sympathy in the eyes of my colleague from IT. She had broken the news like an exhausted surgeon.

I closed my laptop and put it aside, opening my conference binder on the table in front of me. I had taken the laptop to New York last week for a workshop my supervisor had been sure a number of colleagues would enjoy. A laptop was not essential to that enjoyment. Toting the laptop on the subway had been a bother; I could leave it in my hotel room the next day.

I knew that nothing irreplaceable had been lost or jeopardized. I knew that with a practical, no-nonsense assurance.

Two mornings later, my inert laptop packed away, I was ready for the four-hour trek home to New England. I decided to take advantage of the early hour and walk over to Fifth Avenue and St Patrick’s Cathedral for a moment of quiet and reflection. I took a seat in one of the pews off the far aisle where the fewest visitors were strolling with guide books.

I claim no special devotion to Our Lady of Czestochowa but my pew was across from the side altar with her traditional image. My gaze wandered to the lofty ceilings and arches of the cathedral. I let myself imagine all the people who had sat here in other times, with God knows what cares and hopes, with what hard news or unexpected possibilities. I began to understand this (or any) church as a place people go when their personal hard drive goes – or threatens to go – or seems not at all the familiar, dependable thing on which they were counting for the life they wanted.

What wild, mysterious hope is needed then!

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