It was a dark and stormy night. Quite literally.
In point of fact, it was probably unwise of me not to have sheltered-in-place ahead of the storm last Thursday evening. Instead, I hit the road after finishing up my golf round – all the while keeping an eye on the ominous shelf cloud bearing down on Aberdeen from the north.
I was less than a mile from the course when the squall overtook me – a disturbance featuring sheets of horizontal rain, borne on fearsome straight-line winds. Daylight disappeared, and my oft-travelled road home took on an eerie specter – as if I were headed straight into the netherworld.
Rounding a bend, I found the highway blocked by a just-fallen juniper. After surveying the situation, I determined there was just enough room for me to squeeze by, between the top of the fallen tree and a landscaping boulder nearby. But then 150 yards further on: Another downed tree lay across both traffic lanes. And 200 yards beyond that – another one.
Unexpectedly, a familiar route home had become an off-road adventure. And I found myself praying for deliverance. Praying for myself … and for my League-mates, most of whom were still at the course but would soon be making the same treacherous trek.
I did not consciously pray for the intercession of the Blessed Mother in that moment – it was more like an All-Points-Bulletin to the Heavenly Host. Strangely, though, I did experience something very much like the loving reassurance of a mother: as if Mary were answering a prayer that – in my disoriented fear – I was unable to vocalize.
And isn’t that just like a Mother – coming to the aid of a child, even when said child stumbles due to ill-advised choices? The thought occurred to me during our faith-sharing group this morning, as we discussed scripture readings for the feast of the Assumption that the whole church will be celebrating on Sunday.
We Catholics are often accused of “worshipping” Mary. And we certainly venerate her – not just on the Assumption, but on many major and minor feast days throughout the year.
Sometimes, though, I think we Catholics can miss the point about Mary. Her blessings can get obscured by all the liturgical pomp and circumstance with which we surround her.
As I learned on Thursday evening, Mary is more like an everyday Mom – always loving and protecting and nurturing us, and perhaps particularly in those moments when we find ourselves in harm’s way.
So I want to say “thanks”, Mary…for doing me and my League-mates a solid on that treacherous way home the other evening. And if you would, please: Continue to “pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.