His big, blue eyes filled with tears.
All day, he’d watched her. She was so beautiful, so serene; her smile radiated warmth, love and joy. Now she was in someone else’s arms. Earlier in the afternoon he’d approached her, shyly, and then boldly asked:
“Mom…can I have her?”
“She” was a statue, a lovely statue of Our Lady of Grace. Nearly a foot tall and a mere $4.00, she graced the table at the Christian Mother’s Bazaar, beaming her sweet smile at passers-by. Max fell in love instantly.
I gazed into his beautiful eyes and whispered: “Well, sweetie…it’s like this. Payday is in two days. I have no cash…”
He was heartbroken. I thought for a moment and then offered the following:
“Okay…here’s what we’ll do. If no one buys her by the end of the day, then I’ll ask if I can put your name on her, and when we have the money, we’ll purchase her. Meanwhile, we’ll keep her here. How’s that?”
He smiled. And pulled a chair over to the table, watching over his statue, hoping against hope that no one would purchase her. The day progressed, the table slowly emptied of its goods, the statue of Our Lady, hands outstretched, stood untouched in the center.
And then she came…
…a sweet little Franciscan nun, clad in a rough brown garment, bare toes peeking from beneath the hem, her soft veil falling below her belted waist and dangling rosary. She lovingly fingered the statue, and with a sigh, moved down the table towards two framed images of the Blessed Mother of our Lord.
“Hello, Sister! Can I help you?” I inquired.
“Oh…no. But, maybe, yes! Would you be so kind as to add a little card to the two framed images of our Lady, as well as that beautiful statue? Perhaps you could write on the card that the Sisters would very much like to have a statue of our Lady in our chapel, but we have no money. And two of my Sisters have no images of our Lady in their rooms. Perhaps one of your customers would like to make a donation…”
A sharp intake of breath from my good young man, still seated in vigil…
I glanced at him, offered him a brave and cheerful smile, and quickly grabbed the two images and the statue and began wrapping them for Sister.
“Sister…please take these items. Our family wishes to gift them to you and the other Sisters…” I nestled the three paper wrapped items into a shopping bag, and joyfully presented them to her, quite sure that this was exactly what our Lord wished. It was a grace moment…
At first she refused, but after my insistence, she smiled broadly, asked me my name, promised prayers for our family and swiftly moved aside to show the other Sisters their gifts.
I turned, knelt and gazed into those tear-filled blue eyes of my young son…
“Are you okay? I’m so sorry, Max. I really felt that Jesus was asking us to give those things to the Sisters. Can you forgive me for giving her the statue you wanted?”
He sighed and wiped his tears, “I don’t understand why you could just give the statue to her, but not to me…don’t you still have to pay for it?”
I sighed. “Yes, Max…I do. Though I’m pretty sure the Christian Mothers would just insist on making those items gifts for the Sisters, I want our family to bear that sweet burden and I’ll pay the Confraternity on Wednesday at the meeting. You see, Max…the Sisters have a real need and we can help. You really liked that statue didn’t you, but you didn’t “need” it, did you? But what if that sweet Sister had seen you walking with that beautiful statue and had merely commented on her beauty? Or what if she’d said she wished the convent had a statue like that…what would you have done?”
He beamed a big, beautiful smile through his tears and said, “I’d have given it to her…”
I smiled. “Well guess what…you just did! No one here but you and Sister wanted that statue. I knew that you would give it to her, sweetie. I knew you wouldn’t deny the Sisters that gift. How do you feel now?”
“Really good. I hope the Sisters are very happy…” he said, and wiped away the last of his tears.
“They are, Max. And they’re praying for us. There’s no gift more precious than the one they’ve given to us!”
Yesterday, our family received an unexpected blessing in the midst of a crisis. Max is quite sure that the power of those good Sisters’ prayers’ aided us in our time of need.
I’m quite sure he’s right…and I’m quite sure I’ll be looking for a very special statue of our Lady for someone’s Christmas!