Do you remember?

Do you remember?

Have you ever read Hilaire Belloc’s “Tarantella”? It’s such a fun poem. He uses the words to create the rhythm of the famous folk dance from the Mezzogiorno, where my family is originally from. “Do you remember an Inn, Miranda? Do you remember an Inn?”

This afternoon, I took a little break from work to walk around my alma mater (Catholic University). It was the first real spring day after a long spell of post-winter chill.

 

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Where I live, April is usually warm and sunny, but this year it’s been noticeably overcast and cold. It’s so strange to see people wearing their winter coats to checking out the cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin. (I promise you, if you’re not from DC, it’s not usually like that).

The extended winter of this year has been matched by an extended winter in my soul. More than once in the last week have I asked myself, “Why, if it’s Easter, am I still stuck in the Garden?”

As I began my walk, I said a little prayer and asked Jesus to come along with me.

First I noticed the dandelions, and the tiny little purple and blue flowers peeking out among the weeds.

And I heard that quiet, gentle voice:

Do you remember?

And something began to stir.

Then I saw the tulips, with their bright red petals.

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Do you remember?

Then I found myself among the cherry blossoms, and watched as the little pink petals swirled around me, in and out of the streams of sunlight.

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Do you remember?

Yes, Lord, I do! I remember when dandelions and violets were priceless little treasures, and each new bloom was filled with possibilities.

I remember when I would sit in the grass and make chains of clover, and listen to the birds and wonder what it was that they were saying.

Yes, Lord. I remember. I remember what it was to be a little girl.

You still are, to me, and you can be, again.

Sometimes in the dark and stormy winters of life, we forget that there ever was a spring. Sometimes the chill sinks so deep that we don’t even realize there was a life before grief. Hope? What’s that?

If this is you, I promise you, spring will come. I don’t know how, I don’t know when, but I know it will.

Do you remember?

Nicodemus said to him, “How can a person once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot reenter his mother’s womb and be born again, can he?” Jesus answered, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

John 3:4-8

 

 

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The Miracle of the Flowers: A Wedding Story

The Miracle of the Flowers: A Wedding Story

The wedding industry is a bully. It pressures cash-strapped brides to have a Pinterest-perfect wedding no matter what the sacrifice. Add in a deeply entrenched Italian-American culture that says parents must provide for their daughter’s big day (or face eternal embarrassment), compounded with the fact that our Catholic families equaled over 250 people (not including friends), and you’ll start to get a picture of the impossible situation we found ourselves in when my darling James got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife.

I didn’t think I could have one of those dream weddings. My parents had just sold our home at short sale and we were living with my grandmother. James hadn’t found a full-time job yet. A traditional Italian wedding seemed impossible.

Impossible, but here’s the catch. God is Love. And with Love, all things are possible.

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One day, during lunch, I went to a nearby church and prayed. I was doing that famous novena for James to get a job so we could get married. Yes, I wanted a nice wedding, but what I really wanted was to start a marriage with the man I love. I opened the hymnal to a random page, and it happened to be a song about marriage and the miracle at the wedding at Cana. That’s when it hit me:

Jesus would take care of it. His first miracle was making wine at a wedding to keep the party going. Not only would he find James a job so we could get married, but he would make sure we had a nice wedding, too.

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My parents are the ultimate fighting team when it comes to art projects. One Artist + One Engineer= Two brilliant, imaginative people who turn visions into reality. There’s really nothing that these two can’t do. And they channeled their genius into my wedding.

My mom single-handedly made all of the favors. The programs were printed (by my dad!) on gorgeous parchment-style paper and bound in scrapbook paper and ribbons assembled by an in-house team of relatives and friends. My mom and sister made all the boutonnieres, bouquets and corsages out of gorgeous silk flowers a year in advance. We basically kept the glue-gun manufactures in business throughout the whole of 2012.

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One of our gorgeous DIY programs. We had an assortment of paper and ribbons so each one was unique.

Then came the unexpected gifts. My dress alterations and veil were all FREE from a friend of my mother. My gorgeous and unique centerpieces were also done by another friend of my mother. The beautifully engraved cake-serving set and the elegant toasting flutes were gifts from my dear friends. That delicious dessert buffet was a community effort on the part of our friends and family who volunteered to bake their favorite sweets for our big day. And our dream honeymoon was a gift from James’s parents.

Jesus did it. He provided for our big day. Yes, he cares more about the marriage than the wedding, but he cares about the wedding too! There were so many examples of how his love poured through our friends and family and made our day amazing. And family was everywhere. The priest who married us was family. The altar boys were family. Even our wedding coordinator was family. We were completely overwhelmed by love.

And to top it all off…

Out of all these gifts and blessings, there was one little miracle, one gift that stood out as a reminder that ALL the gifts, big and small, were signs that Jesus was taking care of this wedding.

In an effort to curtail expenses, we had decided to forgo altar flowers. Those big, gorgeous arrangements are very expensive, and we just didn’t have the money. We decided that someone would run to Home Depot in the morning and get potted flowers to place around the altar.

In the rush of that morning, no one remembered to purchase our little potted flowers. Oh well. Except when we arrived at the church…

There were flowers on the altar! Three huge, gorgeous, professional arrangements that were the PERFECT colors for our wedding were on either side of the tabernacle and in front of the altar. They’re in all of our pictures and they were incredible.

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See those GORGEOUS flowers on either side of the tabernacle? Those were the anonymous gift! There was a third arrangement in front of the altar. And of course, our wonderful priests (an uncle and a friend), and the bouquet my mom and sister made.

We have no idea where they came from. We’ve guessed that maybe one of our friends or relatives did this for us, but we will never know. Working through loving human beings, God made a miracle happen, and showed us his overwhelming, gratuitous love. As the Rite of Marriage says, “Christ abundantly blesses this love.” And he did. Like making wine out of water, the way our wedding came together was a beautiful, mysterious example of the overflowing love of God.