In the moment, it seemed like the tiniest of graces – a blessing we did not even realize we desired.
A “thank you gift” – sent by snail mail – from one of the recipients of our end-of-year charitable donations arrived damaged the other day: a vial of holy water, smashed to smithereens by some unseen force of automation deep within the bowels of the US Postal Service…its contents long gone.
We were on some level pleased by this outcome, because we hadn’t requested the vial…and we wouldn’t really have known what to do with it. After all, one can’t just toss holy water in the trash, not with all those “pre-Vatican II Catholic vibes” still coursing through one’s varicose (and semi-neurotic) veins.
But if you keep the holy water, then what?
Sprinkle it over an everyday annoyance or minor appeal?
Save it for a rainy day, to bless the outcome of an unexpected dire circumstance (knowing full well that you’d more likely forget that it was in your possession at the time the need arises)?
It was best all around, we decided, that the USPS had taken the matter out of our hands. No decision had to be made – the shards could go straight into the recycling bin.
But then today, on the final day of 2022, it occurred to me that perhaps I’d witnessed something other than a miniscule grace in this turn of events.
Looking ahead to the New Year, I was spending some time with the words of blessing we’ll hear at Mass on Sunday – the very words that have been spoken over God’s holy people for thousands of years:
Say to them:
“The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon
you, and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and
give you peace!”
I realized that, unwittingly and anonymously, we’d added our own blessing over the world (or at least, to that part of the world whose envelopes were mysteriously dampened by this holy water disbursed in transit before it ever made its way to our mailbox).
While we’d had almost nothing to do with setting this “sacred spritz” in motion, Gerri and I are delighted to know that it occurred – and pleased to add our own heartfelt sentiments to all who are reading this tale today: May God bless you and keep you in the New Year!
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.