I was quite excited for the Pope’s visit last week. I think even non-Catholics felt a truly overwhelming sense of peace and compassion pervading the air. I believe it was being called The Frances Effect. And on some of the pundit, talking head shows, they even somberly posed the question, “Will this lifting sense of joy fall away when the Pope leaves?” The question was probably asked because once the Holy Father leaves the States and heads home we’ll all go back to our normal lives….and sadly, I think our daily routines don’t often hold as much peace and compassion as they often should. That must be why the religious use icons and scapulars and rosaries, as constant reminders of sacrifices made, sacrifices given, and the reward and joy that only comes from being connected to the heart.
Once the Pope made it to Washington and started giving speeches, I was glued to the radio. I grabbed my knitting and sat perched on the edge of this chair of mine and dutifully listened to what he had to say. I know that many of us were dead set on trying to categorize and classify the Pope’s message as either right leaning, or leftist. Which somehow bothered me. It was as if they weren’t taking what he had to say to heart…they were just listening for code words to politicize his statement. Can you imagine tolerance and grace being only afforded to one political party? Nonetheless, I was sitting with my knitting, hearing what he had to say, and (always looking for signs), I nearly fell out of my chair when I heard the Pope address congress and not only mention, but quote one of my most beloved heroes, Thomas Merton. What a wonderful, delightful surprise!
And with a big smile, I looked down to my knitting and remembered my teddy bears. It is to those I owe my daily remembrance of compassion, not only received, but also given. I reminded myself that every time I pick up my needles and knit a teddy bear, that I was connecting to the compassion in daily life.
So, I feel like I’m on the right path, so to speak. If the best of life is born of quiet humility, then I think we should all consider ourselves blessed. If the smallest of actions brings joy into the world, then let the simple smile of contentment on your face fervently bring peace and compassion to our daily lives long after the Frances Effect is gone.
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