Posted by: Peadar Ban | May 15, 2009

Linus Would Know

In between all the prayer, the fasting, the spiritual discipline, the works of mercy that one takes for granted around the rectory, there sometimes creeps a worldly care or two. We are, of course, on guard to prevent these things from taking up too much of our valuable time. But, this is a Vale of Tears, and, after all as some wag once said, “In the great Boarding House of the Universe, the pancakes, butter and syrup never come out even.” In other words we have a galaxy cluster here and nothing there. The mountains have not been leveled, the valleys filled and the crooked ways made straight. Thereby hangs a tale. As a matter of fact, thereby hangs all tales.

And, I suppose now that I think on it thereby hangs the very reason for such valuable things as a Liberal Arts education. That’s an argument for another day, but a wonderful segue into the next paragraph.

Not too long ago we hosted a guest at the rectory, a transitional deacon from North Dakota here to attend a function at Thomas More College of the Liberal Arts in nearby Merrimack, NH. He slept in the guest bedroom at the back of the house which we use to store altar drapery, prayer shawls, the odd empty box on its way our the door, and occasional visiting clergy, as above. Good man that he is, he stripped his bed and left the linen to be washed. I discovered it washed and dried by Linda, our maid and occasional Parish Life Coordinator, when I went to the basement for some stuff to stuff the priests with. It was food of course that I keep in the pantry downstairs. It allows me to grumble that everything isn’t within arms reach as I tramp up and down the stairs, and to reflect on my absent mindedness as I go back down for the item I forgot.

I passed the bed linens which had been nicely folded into a compact ball and placed on top of the ironing board by one of the holy fathers. There were two sheets and two pillow cases compressed to the density of a neutron star. Neatly stretched across the wooden drying rack was a pink cotton blanket.

Faced with a decision, “Do I stay or do I go?”, I did a dangerous thing. I listened to an accusing angel standing nearby the sheets and pillow cases who accused me of not wanting to take them upstairs. My heart pierced with guilt, I carried everything upstairs, placing it neatly on the bed. That far I was willing to go in my act of pure charity. Well there was the slightest admixture of churlish reluctance, the merest hint of indolence. We ordinarily overlook those things though as unimportant to the outcome; of a life as well as a tale. And so we shall here.

I wrote a nice note to Linda asking her whose was the pretty cotton blankie, and apologizing for not making the bed because my back ached. Well, it did! Later on, I was feeling compunctive about leaving it all up to Linda, so I made the bed after all…but forgot to remove the note from her desk.

The next day the real owner of the cotton blanket appeared before her to ask what had become of it, his face a complicated mixture of annoyance and anxiety one may safely assume. After all, it was a blankie. The note was seen, the proper conclusion reached and the blanket retrieved. When I arrived for work my note to Linda was on the kitchen counter with an appendix informing me I’d mis-made the bed with someone else’s blanket. Good Catholic that my correspondent was, I was complimented on my bed making skills, nonetheless. When I walked into Linda’s office she told me all about the mystery and its solution, and even told me that she, too, thought I’d done a very nice job making the bed. Inwardly I warmed to the compliment and added one of my own.

I returned to the kitchen happy to know I had a skill, at long last, but happier to know someone’s anxiety had been relieved. No one should be deprived of the one thing in life…aside from God’s grace…upon which one may depend; their blankie.

There you have it! It is the same old story don’t you think? In the great Boarding House of the Universe there is a blankie here, none there… God be praised, though, Earth was restored at least in this wise, at least on this day, and the Parousia put back on track. Safety and security had returned. Peace reigned.

What a grace…


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