"Hey! Can you help me with candles?" "Sure." "Ya see I've got this little room with my mom's religious things in it and I'd like to light some candles like she used to do. You may have known her. Margaret Booker?" "Known her? I didn't know." "She passed away in 2011. I'm just moving back and trying to get myself together." "She came in here all the time." "I know that's why I'm here."
The man was looking for all the people who connected him to his mom. I, in my usual busy way, did not even realize it had been that long since she had been in. Was she sick? She never seemed sick. She was rather passive most days, just wanting to get her candles and move along. She always asked for me. She was sweet, asking occasionally how she could get the best deal. I got it. I understood. Or did I? Why the hurry? Why did we never chat like I do with other customers? Why did I not realize she hadn't been by the store?
She was just one of those souls who wander the earth, flying low under the radar, making a difference to those who may never remember or realize and yet, to many who will never forget. "Ya know, my mom used to go by the Church and get the flowers they were ready to replace and take them home. I would go in and she would have flowers all over the place, taking out the wilted and replacing them with fresh. She took them to the nursing homes for people who did not have visitors. When she ran out of flowers, she just sat and talked." "What a wonderful woman your mother was!" "She wasn't even sick. She just died one day." "I'm so sorry."
Today after Mass, I had a little sidewalk talk with a long time friend about the meaning of ASK - Ask, Seek, Knock. We agree that God wants us to Ask. He knows what we need. He knows, but He wants us to ASK. He wants us to seek...answers, needs, people, Him, goodness, love and on and on. Look for Him. Look for the good. Look for the needs of others. And, put it into action. Knock on the door, go to Him, let Him open up a whole new world. Be aware of one another. Bang on it if you must but move. Don't sit around waiting for someone or something to come to you.
I am fortunate to work in the midst of so many holy people who I really barely touch the surface of knowing. I am fortunate to have a God who knows me and loves me anyway. To have a God who despite my busy-ness allows me to witness something so much more. I am fortunate that when I don't remember to ASK or am too busy to SEEK, that He pursues me and He knocks. And sometimes, YES, He knocks me over... with His love and His goodness and His mercy.
To Mrs. Booker, my holy friend, and to all who work quietly in our midst, who go unnoticed by our busy lives, I am grateful that you were truly His hands and His feet and His heart. I am grateful for all who do the will of God and ask and seek and knock and make a difference. I am grateful for the son who shared and who wants to take the hand-me-down and pass it on. This is how we learn. This is why the holy are working in our midst.