Last updated on February 15, 2021
First snow, magnificent snow, quietly settling in the trees, leafless arms wide open to receive their winter garment from above.
All-day, excited and watchful, I waited for the sky to darken, just the way my Mom described me every November since we came to Canada from BG, British Guiana, 1956.
God knows our simple, perhaps even trivial needs, even our playful, childlike needs. We’re his children.
Every November holds something more than I can ask or imagine. Heavenly Father, You always prepare my heart for it, stirring excitement in me. I love the geese going days in September, the colourful October forests, and the death of leaves captured by cold winds while fire-yellow Tamarks hang on to close out the season.
This year marked Father Robert Pelton’s return to the Father on October 16. First Madonna House layman to be ordained, I met him in 1981. For 39 years, he drew me closer and closer to the Mercy of God through His wisdom, love, and poustinik heart at Madonna House.
I could feel his presence and intercession every day from his departure.
He had his finger All Souls Day, the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, the souls of the just.
I had no idea what I would face as I travelled to St Hedwig’s Church in Barry’s Bay for adoration to pray, especially for Fr. Bob and Mike Lopez, MH member who died October 31.
Not always do you come to me in adoration, Lord, with a little lift of the veil that usually hides you from my heart. You gathered all the moments of my life, painful and joyful, and held them out for me securely in your palm, as I heard you say, “Why were you terrified,” just the same way you told the disciples after you silenced the wind.
Light pouring out of the church dome, cascading over the monstrance and filling the sanctuary seemed to have a source other than electricity. Peace flowed from every corner like the radiant warmth from a lakeside campfire.
I like sitting under the ceiling image displaying the 1975 Holy Year proclaimed by Pope Paul VI. That was the year Jesus came dramatically to me in Scarborough’s St Maria Goretti Church, rescuing me from the Quagmire of his absence in my heart and way of life.
I closed that magnificent hour on my knees, then walked away from you only to find you outside covering the sky with snow. Out to the edge of the Church lot overlooking Kamaniskeg Lake, I stood in a moment of seemingly everlasting peace, your Holy Spirit in every gentle snowflake, silent and radiant.
On the way home, I looked forward to All Souls Mass, my next stop, then off to the Visitation for Mike Lopez. Eleven days ago, it was Father Pelton’s Visitation. Both men entered Madonna House the same year and “left” MH the same year.
From the funeral home, the snow kept falling, all the way to my last stop, my mother’s grave, where I’ve been praying every year on All Souls Day since she died in 2017.
In the dark, snow-laden cemetery by her grave, I thought of our reason for hope, unshakable hope that has no room for despair. By his death and Resurrection, Jesus gave all souls the most powerful witness to his constant command, “Do not Be Afraid.” Nothing can separate us from Him, the source of our everlasting life and happiness.
I turned to the crucifix, standing tall in the falling snow and glow of a small floodlight. Fr Justin tonight, at Mass, centred his homily on God’s Mercy, saying that purgatory is evidence of the Mercy of God in that He casts a net, wide as possible to catch an immeasurable number of souls. Only a drop in the ocean of his Mercy lay in the earth of this cemetery, including my mother.
He not only proves his love for us but takes care of our deepest needs, quenching our hunger for Him in the Eucharist.
He also cares about our Knitty gritty life, entering the endless cycle of cleaning and dirtying, breaking and fixing, working and playing.
When I see the heavens, the work of your hands,
the moon and the stars, which you arranged,
what is man that you should keep him in mind,
mortal man that you care for him?
First snow, what beautiful snow on the day we honour and pray for the souls of the faithful departed. The most loving of Fathers in his wisdom and infinite Genius sent gentle snowflakes, each unique in its features and splendour, the perfect symbol of those rescued in the net of His Mercy.
After this, I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.” (Rev. 7:9-10)