Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Girl Crying at the Church

After my conversion experience, a lot of amazing things began to happen to me. This one weekend in particular, I was lying sick in bed with a cold. I was pretty miserable and just passing the time.
Passing the time, at that time, usually meant reading the Bible with a great deal of enthusiasm, filled with the excitement of new discovery. The story of the moment was the great story of Phillip and the Eunuch in the Acts of the Apostles. The Holy Spirit told Phillip to go counsel the Eunuch of Queen Candace, who was reading the prophecies of Isaiah. Phillip is able to calm him down, explain the Scriptures and administer Baptism, after which the Spirit snatches him away.
At this moment, a voice within me, in my heart and not in my ears, spoke to me. It said: “Go to St. Mary’s Church, outside at the right rear stairs. There’s a girl there who needs your help.” I said to myself: “Now, wait just a minute! This is just my imagination. I’m reading a story just like that and I’m just imagining something similar.” Satisfied, I went back to my reading, but the voice just would not stop. It kept demanding: “Go to St. Mary’s Church, outside at the right rear stairs. There’s a girl there who needs your help. GO to St. Mary’s…”
I thought to myself: “Well, it wouldn’t hurt anything to just go out there and take a look. If there’s nothing there, there’s nothing there, and nothing’s lost.” So, I decided to get up. I put on some pants over my pajamas and put my slippers on and started to go out.
My mother stopped me. “Hey, where are you going? You’re sick!”
I didn’t want to say, ‘I’m going out because I’m hearing voices telling me to do it’, that’s for sure, so I said, “well, they say fresh air is actually good for you when you’re sick, once in a while”. I looked at her hopefully for a bit. “All right, I guess so,” she said doubtfully.
I walked the two blocks to St. Mary’s, and rounded the corner, and as I approached the right rear stairs of the church, what did I see but a girl sitting on the stairs crying! I couldn’t believe my eyes, but it was true!
Now, I don’t know why I said this, (it sure was funny that I did), but I walked up to her and said, “The Lord sent me!” She replied immediately, “Good! I was praying that he would send somebody!"
It turns out that she was the President of her CYO group from Waterville, I think it was. (CYO is ‘Catholic Youth Organization’ and it was pretty big back then.) They were having a bunch of groups from across the state gather in the hall at St. Mary’s for a meeting, a Mass, and an “Agape Love Feast” meal. The story was that the other girls in her group were being really mean to her in some way; you know how teenage girls can be sometimes. I recall there was some jealousy involved.
Whatever the case, she just needed somebody to talk to and get her back into charity mode. We talked for a while about how to deal with people and about how much our faith meant to each of us.
Finally, she got up to go back in, and I turned to leave. She said, “Wait! Why don’t you come with me to meet my friends?” I looked at myself with my red nose, disheveled hair and slippers and said, “No! I don’t think that would be such a good idea…” but she insisted strongly. She was a leader, all right.
I went in, met all her friends, and shared in the meeting in some way. I can’t imagine what they all must have thought!
A couple of years later, I re-met this same girl at the St. Paul’s Oblate Retreat Center in Augusta and she seemed to be well on her way to be some kind of CEO or leader of some kind. She was walking with the Lord and experiencing his blessing. If she’s ever had to cry again like she did at the church, I doubt if she’s crying alone. And I will never forget the day I was called to talk to the Girl Crying at the Church.