Sunday, October 07, 2007

If You Build It, She Will Come

"For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late." - Habakkuk 2:2-4

So it is written in the closing lines of this Sunday's first reading of the Mass. I don't know how it happens, but as usual, the Word hits the spot, once again, sinking in perfectly like a cylinder into a circle-shaped hole.

When I heard it read, I just smiled at the synchronicity. A couple of months ago, I was invited to give a talk on "Rekindling Eucharistic Amazement" just outside of Cleveland, Ohio. "Just outside" is an understatement.

Mike Malloy picked me up Friday night and for over an hour, we wove our way from the city lights, past the stadium where the Indians has just tied it up, into the misty shadows of the wide open farms and woods of central Ohio. In the middle of a quiet farm in Windsor, we finally reached our destination. And then I saw her.

Gazing serenely over a dark lake that was wrapped by luminous spheres (forming a massive rosary), was a 50 foot statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Whoa. The biggest in the world (I have no doubt). As we drove onto the gravel road where the Heinz family lives, I had a sense that this place was... different.

Years ago, this faith-filled family of 10 had lived on this farm, and then after a series of unfortunate events, including bankruptcy, job changes, and travels and travails overseas in England, they won it back again, against all odds! In gratitude, they wanted "to do something for the Lord." The story is a good one, involving mystics, miracles, and mysterious truckers from Texas. And lots and lots of faith and trust.

This place is special. You can feel the peace, and I found myself smiling for no particular reason as I walked around the wet grass, and the people who came for a day of prayer, Mass, adoration, and talks. Maybe it was the funny feeling I had of being in a Catholic version of Field of Dreams. "If you build it, she will come," I thought to myself, as I walked up to that statue yesterday morning.

People come from all over; they just show up. Migrant workers from local farms and factories feel they've found a home away from home here. The sick and terminally ill come. The curious, the Catholic, the neighbors.

It's ridiculous in a way. What's happening here? What's this massive statue doing in the middle of a farm in Ohio? How did they do it? What's the plan for the future? They have no idea.

"For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late."
- Habakkuk 2:2-4

The sun had just tipped over the horizon and began pouring its light on Mother Mary (she faces the east, of course, where the sun rises). You get a sense that something big is happening. Something is coming. Or perhaps Someone. I made a final visit this morning, in the cool quiet of the dawn. Just me, "One-eyed Sam" (the farm dog) and Maggie (the border collie who used to herd the llamas and other animals when it was more of a working farm).

I thought of the confessions heard in the shade of trees yesterday, the beautiful little adoration chapel, the Holy Mass under the stars, and the fact that Fr. McFadden was preaching about Jesus, and that the Bishop of Youngstown had been here twice, and was pleased.

People are praying here, loving God in a little Garden of Eden, and finding their place in the shadow of the New Eve, the one who never grasped at, but only and always received Love. The Woman clothed with the Son, whose "yes" has changed the course of history. When I first saw that statue, I couldn't take my eyes off of her. I hope that's a grace that stays with me.

For Mary is the window, and her Son is the view.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless handheld

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