I was in Paris, feeling especially grateful as I walked amongst the most gorgeous churches in the world. People didn't need to know God to experience what he must be like through the majestic structures that towered before them. As I strolled the city streets, I too was in awe of the intricate details of these gorgeous labors of love. If only everything in life had been so eloquently created to result in as much awe inspiring beauty as these sacred structures, we might spend more time to stop and enjoy things. As I looked for my next cafe, I suddenly saw a church that called to me. I knew I needed to go pray there immediately.
I walked inside, sat down and my heart instantly felt connected. As I looked up, trying to take in the overwhelming magnitude of this place I notice the stained glass windows in front of me. It took me a moment to make out through the colorful designs adorning them, but there were two candle shaped windows that housed a pink heart in between its two flames. I had never seen anything like it. The rest of the church looked so regal, so elegant... These shapes reminded me of stencils from a Lisa Frank set. They were so random, yet so perfect. This church was obviously made for me. I wanted to pray, but I had no clue what to say. I decided to go old school and put some of the prayers I had learned during my Catholic School days to use. As I sat there and began to pray, I realized I had forgotten how. The countless Hail Marys and our fathers from my confessions of breaking my mothers plate when I took it out of the dishwasher and being mean to my brother had apparently finally been lost. I sat there defeated. Tears welled up in my eyes. "Just help me." I pleaded. "Sil vous plais. Merci."
However, as I continued to sit there trying to be open to any kind of miracle or any answer that would come solve the mystery of my life, I thought of my Nonna. My sweet Nonna who I hadn't seen in 4 years. My loving grandmother, Giuseppina who refused to let my mother name me after her because she hated the name. My Nonna who was about to turn 97. I thought of her often when visiting churches. In fact, I had lit candles in churches all over the world for her, but it now dawned on me that perhaps she had been lighting her own candles for me. It suddenly occurred to me that for every prayer I had said for her well being, for peace and joy to fill every fiber of her soul - she had said countless more for me. I wondered if maybe it was the power of her prayers that had gotten me this far. How much of my life had been taken care of by the love that she sent me from a distance?
I picked myself up from the seat and walked over to the candles. As I scrounged through my purse a heart sticker exactly like those in the stained glass stuck to my hand. It was from one of the young girls I had befriended in Nepal. The girl who spoke no english, but played with me day after day and gestured our hearts together as I left. More tears ran down my face. I managed to pull together the last of my euros, which turned out to be 1.10€, and put them in the offering bin. I picked one of the long white candles from the box and with every bit of love and gratitude I could manage to spark within my heart, I lit the candle. I prayed for my Nonna. I gave thanks for my Nonna. And I asked God if there was anyway I could go ahead and cash in all those silly prayers I prayed for who knows what to happen to me, and send them all to this woman who had been my lifelong secret angel. To the woman who I was sure without me ever knowing until now, had managed to pray for me more than I had prayed for myself... And that was a lot.
From now on I decided anytime I worried about something, felt the need to call to God for help, I would instead just send a thank you to my Nonna who had already made sure I was covered for life. And in that moment, I realized I had remembered how to pray.
"You were there for me when I couldn't find myself, Opened a door for me when there seemed no way out, And you were there with me when I was too young to see bringing music through with your wisdom and peace." - Mystery Angel by Xavier Rudd