Tuesday, April 12, 2011
I have a story to tell tonight about a nun and a priest.. a love story for the ages...
Bob was a young catholic man who heard his calling early in life and knew that he was going to go to seminary and become a priest. He studied at the Vatican under one of the popes, said Mass in latin and was eventually placed in a church in New York, close to his brother's family. His brother, Jack, chose not to go into seminary, got married and had four kids. Their mother and sister were disappointed in Jack's decision but Bob was their shining star. He was a man of faith, one of those priests who's faith was present in every act, every word, every kindness during his life.
Peg was a woman of incredible faith who made the sacrifice to go into "god's service" as she used to call it. She too had an incredible faith, devoted to doing God's work, even when it was difficult. Church every day, days of silence, community work you name it, both were involved in it. They met each other through the congregation in New York. They developed a bond over their love of God and the church and what it stood for.
The Catholic church, facing declining attendance, stopped saying mass in latin and at some point lost the focus. Bob decided, after much praying and, in his words, consultation with God, that he was going to leave the church. He felt that the church was becoming less about God and more about something else. He turned to his brother Jack when his mother and sister turned their back on him because he was leaving the church. He kept in touch with Peg, who was slowly falling in love with him. Conflicted, Peg prayed about this and decided to leave the church as well. Realizing their shared love of God had evolved into a deep devotion to one another, they were married and for a while lived with Jack and his family. The bond between brothers was stronger than ever. Longing for the connection to the church again, Bob and Peg started their own congregation, one that was far less judgmental and one that focused on the positive relationship with god and the power that relationship gave people to help others. Both were well out of the age for child bearing so their church became their baby. Jack and his family moved out of the area and Bob and Peg, like many others went to Florida. Here they started another church, again focusing on the love of god and focusing that love into positive acts of kindness for the community. While establishing this new life, Jack and Bob remained close. Visits occurred and Jack's kids grew up and had children of their own. Bob and Peg were not around often, but when they were there was a peace about them. Slightly standoffish but willing to listen, they both offered their wisdom and shared their relationship with everyone who encountered them. Peg learned to use email, Bob loved a phone call. They enjoyed retirement in a way that only a couple without children could, cruising for a large percentage of the year, spreading their faith. Jack died, cancer took him and Bob was told not to come say goodbye. He didn't and Jack's daughter took this hard. Jack's daughter was the only one who spoke with them any more and she cut off contact for about two years after Jack's death because she was angry that Bob did not come to say goodbye to his brother who took him in when the rest of the family turned their back on him. She got over it and called one day. Bob and Peg both spoke with her. Emotions overflowed because of the connection that was reestablished. Phone calls and emails picked up where they left off like nothing had changed.
They were getting old, but still managing to get out into the community and share their profound faith with those around them. They organized community projects, were recognized as civic leaders in their community and when asked why they did it, the answer was simply because God's message was to be kind to each other and give unto yourself.
The nun and the priest, their story of shared faith and love came to a crossroads last week when Peg unexpectedly passed away. When Jack's daughter spoke with Bob, he simply said that his father had called his angel on earth to get her wings and that he knew that she would be waiting for him but he had more love to spread before he joined her.
While I may not believe in the same things that they did, while I may not have the faith and unwavering belief in the higher power, their faith and love is a testament that I was lucky enough to be able to experience and learn from. We had many conversations about God, the church and all that went along with that...and never once did they tell me my beliefs were wrong, just that they kept me in their prayers and that I needed to come to my own conclusions and live my life and my faith in the best way I could. I know that there is another angel watching over me, guiding me and leading me down the path that is life. Rest in Peace Aunt Peg.