Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Power of The Cross

I have mentioned before that my mom, the Anonymous Peggins, had taken up a ritual of doing Morning Prayer at her breakfast table.  Her practice is different than mine.  She likes using a little book written by the former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold as her guide. And, apparently, she has been picking up the Forward Day-by-Day booklets at her church, which offer additional daily meditations.

Much like her obsession with baseball, these are new practices of my mom's that I'm pleased she's doing.  Growing up, she didn't do as much routine practice of prayer.  No one in my family did.  We went to church regularly.  But that was on Sundays, it was for the obligatory hour or so, and then we would go about our business until the next Sunday at 10am.  The only connection I saw my parents have beyond that routine were their additional ministries.  Mom sang in the choir at Christ Church; and I know dad, at one point, was legal counsel to the parish and would need to go to meetings.  I sang in the Junior Choir until I was about 10.  That's when I became an acolyte and I quit the choir.  And then there was Youth Group, but that was about hanging out with my friends, and once I got to prep school, my life was no longer my own except for that hour on Sunday mornings.

So, like many people, we were all about being like the Marthas of the church with little, if any, Mary energy going on.  The fact, then, that mom has taken her place sitting at the feet of Jesus in daily prayer is a good, and right, and joyful thing, in my opinion.

I think it is also helping her right now in ways that are not readily perceptible.

While I was there with her at Exeter Hospital, I made a point of wearing my crucifix with the rainbow beads.  It was my way of  having that outward and visible sign there for me as a touchstone during this trying time.  Each time my mom would see it, she'd point to my chest.

"It's my cross," I'd say, and lean down to let her touch it.  She would take it in the fingers of her left hand, fondling the beads, and staring intently at the crucifix fixed in the center.  Then she'd pat it against me and smile.  She'd touched the cross, felt the rainbow beads, and now she was happy.

Her interest in the crucifix was not just with mine.  On Wednesday, Rev. Caroline Hines, the interim rector at Christ Church, came by the hospital to see my mom.  Unlike her two male cohorts, Caroline decided to travel, as I say, "incognito"; meaning that she was without her priestly collar.  Instead, she donned a simple white turtle neck under her shirt, and a silver crucifix.  Mom was delighted to see her.  And, again, her eyes became fixated on the cross around Caroline's neck.   The priest leaned forward and let mom touch it.  And, just as she had done with mine, she fondled it between the fingers of her left hand, and then smiled.  Having this touchstone seemed as important to her as it does to any of us who put it around our necks.

In my own mind, I wonder if my mom was saying whatever version she has of a prayer as she felt these pendants and symbols of Christ around our necks.  Certainly her fingers were communicating a prayer.  I can only hope that she is feeling the power of Christ as she contemplates the power of the cross.

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