The Bench

On Holy ground, barefoot steps fall,
Mommy look, there is a man!  One child ahead calls.
I approach and tears instantly flow without a sound.
You were disguised as I hesitated to draw closer to the mound.
Too often rejected, it is Christ Jesus we have found.

In the summer of 2017 our family went on a six week family vacation/pilgrimage expedition.  Initially scheduled as a multi-state trip to spend time with grandparents, our trip became grandparents and much more as we incorporated several pilgrimages.  Knowing our travel dates were set in stone, I began researching Catholic travel.  Logistically I picked out some locations and relied on the Holy Spirit as our guide.  While I was moved at all of the locations we visited, one in particular had a profound effect on me.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs in Auriesville, NY is holy ground.  It is the location of both the birth (St. Kateri) and the death of saints (where three Jesuit missionaries were martyred.)  We arrived and spent some time praying and exploring the intricate coliseum.  Outside, we made our way over to the garden and statue area.  It was inspiring to experience memorial after memorial.  Approaching the last one,  the Unborn Memorial to babies lost to abortion I could see the bench from afar. 

Our middle daughter started to run closer, then stopped saying, “Mommy!  Mommy! There is a man lying on the bench.”  My heart stopped.  My husband hadn’t caught up with us yet.  Fleeting thoughts of don’t go closer…wait…we are in the middle of nowhere…why is that person on the bench...don’t, go, closer.  It felt slowly, but thoughts suddenly changed to, wait a minute…this is a shrine…what ARE they doing here?  Go, find out.

As my husband caught up and we got closer, together we realized that it was a statue.  However, not just any statue.  A statue of Jesus, crucified.  He was completely covered with the exception of exposed crucified feet.  I had immediate, deep profound tears.  My kids and husband stared.  My husband held me till the tears stopped.  I couldn’t speak. 

I have thought of that experience every day since last July.  We didn’t talk about it again the rest of the trip, or even for months after.  In fact, I didn’t even speak of it again till after receiving the graces of writing the poem above as a result of attending the silent retreat last November.  Since then I’ve had some time to reflect on the experience and have become a lay member for the Home of the Mother.
Homeless.  Crucified.  Rejected. Home. I realize now I was so deeply moved at the bench containing Jesus because of the path to holiness we are on.  It is a journey in which one can feel alone or rejected, but Christ is always our home.  Jesus and Mary, leading us on our spiritual journey.  It was another sign that we were heading the right direction.  The concept of “home” kept resurfacing. 

In our family journey of conversion, we have been led out of spiritual homelessness to the fullness of the Catholic Church and to the Home of the Mother.  We discovered the Home of the Mother through homeschooling friends of ours and our oldest daughter has been a member since 2016.  The rest of our family became lay members in January this year. 

"The world’s thy ship and not thy home." ~ St. Therese of Lisieux

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