Once I had the meal's provisions in hand, I went up to the checkout. A heavily tattooed and somewhat scruffy young man filed in behind me. He appeared to be the sort of young man said church lady might pass mild judgment on. (I'm not suggesting this is a good thing or anything less than sinful on my part, but there it is.)
In one hand he had a small glass vase, about six inches tall and 3 inches in diameter, filled with two carnations and the sort of white and purple floral filler that surrounds otherwise lonely carnations with love. In the other he had a card enclosed in its crisp white envelope.
"Go ahead," I said gesturing for him to move in front of me.
"Are you sure?"
"Thank you very much," he replied.
As he moved ahead, he kept my attention because he placed that narrow little vase on its base, right on the belt of the checkout counter. I was cringing inside in anticipation of what might happen when the checker pushed the button to move the belt along. When you're 46, a young man of 21 looks like a boy, and it's difficult to decide whether it's best to intervene and suggest revision of a precarious situation like that.
She pushed the button; he grabbed his vase. As he kept his left hand extended to steady his little
glass-enclosed spray of good wishes, he looked over his left shoulder and smiled. "It's my second wedding anniversary," he said.
Well now, to someone who makes entirely too much noise about marriage and is rather inclined to lose hope for its future in this modern culture, that is significant.
"My parents just celebrated their 50th anniversary," I replied.
"We just celebrated grandpa's 87th birthday and gran and grandpa's 63rd wedding anniversary," he said.
The checker broke in, "sixteen dollars please."
He pulled out his parachute-material wallet and ripped open the Velcro to pull out the bills. When his purchase was complete, he walked on. Once my order had been completed and paid for, I headed for the door. At a table just inside the door sat that young man. The vase of flowers stood next to the open card. His hand grasped a pen, moving rapidly in circles, the way hands sometimes do when hearts are bursting with emotion to express, but minds cannot find the words. He looked up and saw me. I smiled. He smiled. It was a little boy smile, full of pride and hope.
It seems that our Lord is aware of those aspects of modern life that are inclined to sap me of hope and is pleased to set me straight.
Pray with me, will you, for this young man in the market and his wife? Pray for me also, that I might learn to see the face of Jesus in all people.
Most gracious God, we give you thanks for your tender love in sending Jesus Christ to come among us, to be born of a human mother, and to make the way of the cross to be the way of life.
We thank you, also, for consecrating the union of man and woman in his Name.
By the power of your Holy Spirit, pour out the abundance of your blessing upon this man and this
Defend them from every enemy.
Lead them into all peace.
Let their love for each other be a seal upon their hearts, a mantle about their shoulders, and a crown upon their foreheads.
Bless them in their work and in their companionship; in their sleeping and in their waking; in their joys and in their sorrows; in their life and in their death.
Finally, in your mercy, bring them to that table where your saints feast for ever in your heavenly home; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.
~Prayer for Marriage from the Book of Common Prayer
Pax Christi dear ones,
Five more days of seeing the positive to come!
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