Such a lovely room

Such a lovely room

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Mary Regula, 11/29/26-4/5/18

For Mary Regula
Isaiah 25:6-9
Revelation 21:2-7
John 6:37-40

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

We gather together on this day to commend Mary into the care of God’s loving arms.  There will come another day when we will gather to celebrate Mary’s remarkable life and incredible accomplishments.  Today, we have met in this holy place to be reminded of her deep and abiding faith in God, and—more importantly—to be reminded of God’s unfailing love for Mary.  There are three things I want to share with you this morning.

First, a greeting.  I did not know Mary for very long, in the scheme of things.  But every time I visited her, starting two years ago, right up until the time she stopped speaking, she would always take my hand, look me in the eye, and ask, “From whence have you come?”  The best name I have for this is, “Regal Curiosity.”  From whence have you come?  I always wanted to say, “from hither and yon, M’lady.”  But I always answered truthfully:  From St. Timothy’s Church.  And every time I gave that answer, Mary’s eyes would light up.  She knew the place well, and even as her memory slipped away, she still recognized the name, and she would smile at the memory.

Second, a poem.  The very first time I visited Mary and Ralph at the farm in 2016, I sat down with them to chat and to bring them the Sacrament.  Several times during that first conversation, Mary quoted from a Robert Browning poem.  She wanted to be sure I understood how important it was to her.  And she would stop the conversation, and look me in the eye and quote two lines:  “Grow old along with me.  The best is yet to be.”  She was so insistent about this, that I looked up the poem as soon as I had time.

It’s a l-o-n-g poem, but Mary knew the best part, which is the first stanza:  “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hand who saith, 'A whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God: See all, nor be afraid!”  Mary and Ralph lived together fearlessly, embracing a full life, trusting God, seeing all.  A whole life together as God hoped, and they lived all of it.

Third, the Sacrament.  From my very first visit, after Mary took the bread—the body of Christ—she would weep.  Uncontrollable tears streaming down her cheeks.  Every time.  These were sacred, holy moments, and no one dared speak until Mary would open her eyes again.  Taking Communion was a transcendent experience for Mary, and I was honored and humbled to be the one who was blessed to bring it to her, over those few short months.  If I ever doubted whether Jesus was truly present in the Sacrament, a short drive down to Navarre would set me straight.

The greeting, the poem, and the Sacrament.  These are the three things I will always remember about Mary.  And you could give these things different names: people, abundant life, and Jesus.  These are the three things that Mary was passionate about, and—it’s no coincidence—these are the same things that God is most passionate about: people, abundant life, and Jesus.  Mary lived a life attuned to God’s will.  She cared about people, she wanted people to live the fullest life possible, and she knew that, somehow, Jesus came to her in the sacrament.

Mary’s life was an inspiration yes.  But her faith in God is what made it so.  Jesus said:  “Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away.”  Mary surely has come to Jesus.  And if Jesus asks her, “From whence have you come?”  She can say with confidence, “From a life well-lived, and people well-loved:  a life well-pleasing to God.”


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