Springtime in November, and love filtering through stained glass
In My Father’s House / By Paul Thomas Moore
Sometimes being behind the eight ball can be a good thing. It helps us to see who our friends are, and we have all sorts of friends in the saints and souls of November.
My much-beloved late father-in-law Jerry Klein, my predecessor in this column space, eloquently expressed November’s simultaneous loss and gift: “How can the world change so fast? Wasn’t it only yesterday the trees were flaming molten gold? We are left with an ink drawing . . . but there is a solemnity in this emptiness.”
His words were prescient. We’ve certainly seen how the status quo can change quickly — these past months have taught us nothing if not that. But perhaps in this most atypical of years, we can look at November’s traditional bleakness as a bit of a break.
A LONG-FORGOTTEN WINDOW “DIS-COVERED”
All — or most — of the leaves are down, and the sky is gray, but walking into our old country church recently became a window for me into the hidden glories of November. This view was undisturbed by present storms, with love filtering through stained glass from our parish’s past.
During recent renovations, a long-forgotten window was found inside a bricked-over wall gracing the original entrance. Nobody alive had a clue it was there, nor when it had been covered up. Like the jewel it is, the window has been restored and reset in its proper place — presiding over our comings and goings as a parish people.
When I walked past the window and into the main part of our church this All Souls Day, it wasn’t difficult to feel the braid of faith connecting us to our parents and other deceased family and friends. During this special month of prayer for the souls in Purgatory, we hope they stepped straight into Heaven. Still, just in case there’s anything we can do to shorten anyone’s wait, we owe it to our loved ones to do it.
That day my wife and I were entering our re-born church for only the second time since the completion of renovations — the first time being the day before on All Saints Day. It struck me that as a parish, we had been in a kind of purgatory for a while. (Is that sense of longing what it feels like to be in the real Purgatory?)
Granted, ours was a very mild purgatory — while the work was taking place in the church, the parish center had been appointed with all the comforts of home, and yet, it was hard to avoid a sense of dislocation, even approaching exile. The parish center move coincided with the onset of COVID in March, followed by seasons of national discontent. Spring wasn’t much to write home about, and summer was no picnic. So much swirling around outside the walls of our little church.
Then, inside those walls a window is discovered. “Dis-covered” is precisely the right word. It was there all along, but with the covering dispensed with, what was “lost has been found.” (Luke 15:32)
NEVER HIDDEN FROM GOD’S SIGHT
Speaking of lost and found, as I passed under the restored window, I glanced to my right to see the new confessional and adjacent crying room (convenient, as this is the place where tears are to be left behind).
The winds still blow outside, but hope lives here, with the Eucharist as our manna during our earthly pilgrimage. We can have confidence that though Heaven may be hidden from our eyes, like that stained-glass window it’s waiting to be discovered inside the vestibule of his Sacred Heart.
We are never hidden from his sight. Before he formed us behind the wall of our mother’s womb, he named and knew us.
It’s November, but any season can serve as a springtime of the Holy Spirit.
Paul Thomas Moore is a Catholic commentator and singer-songwriter. He and wife Mary Louise attend St. Mary of Lourdes in Germantown Hills, Illinois. He can be reached at email@example.com.