I noticed her as soon as I pulled into the gas station. She was remarkable, only in her "ordinariness." I can't make any kind of educated guess about her age, she could have been 50 or 70. Her clothes were clean, as was her hair which was combed straight back and held away from her eyes with a metal barrette. She held her face in a grim, determined "scowl" while she scrubbed at highway dirt and bug remains on her car's windows with the station's squeegee. There was just something about her that pulled at my heart and made me want to give her a smile and wish her a great day.
Let me back up, I'm getting ahead of myself, AGAIN!
This weekend's Gospel at mass was about the man who sowed seeds on all kinds of soil and how, depending on where it landed, it either took root, or it didn't. I've heard that reading at least a gazillion times. One difference this time was the homily that followed. We are incredibly blessed in our parish to have two wonderful men serve as priests. They are remarkable men of faith who shepherd us by walking beside us on our faith's journey. Fr. Greg, our Vicar, is also one of the most gifted homilists that I've ever heard. He was a way of taking the Gospel teachings that we have all heard over and over and over, and twisting them in such a way that their message is new and fresh and pointedly relevant to our lives. This week was no exception. He spoke of our call to be evangelists and sowers of the seeds of God's Grace. Let me be PERFECTLY clear...I am not an evangelist. At best, I am a "struggling" Catholic. I tend to keep my faith as a deeply personal thing and my conversations with God are held in the quiet recesses of my heart.
When I first spoke to the woman at the gas station, she didn't seem to hear me nor notice me, she was so concentrated on her "washing" task. Then that little voice that only I hear, told me to speak to her again. So, after putting the nozzle in the tank, I spoke again, louder this time and was rewarded with an amazing smile. Her face became radiant! Never mind that she was missing a couple of teeth and that the lines in her face multiplied as she smiled, she honestly lighted from within!
By the time I was replacing the gas nozzle, I had already shifted my thoughts to my next moves. I was getting ready to drive to Round Rock and was debating whether I should travel via the 130 toll road or the interstate. The woman next to me spoke to me saying that she had had five children and that they had all spent time at the Medina Children's Home. (Uh oh, I thought, what was this all about?) She explained that they had become too much for her to handle alone when they were teenagers and she had been in no shape to try and care for them. She went on to say that when they did come back to her, they taught her a little saying: "Find a penny, give it away and you'll never want, another day." At that, she handed me a penny. While this was a cute, simple thing to do, the feeling I kept getting from my encounters with this woman was that I was being given the opportunity to spend time in the company of an angel. I can't explain the feeling, in fact, I really can't begin to believe that I'm sharing this experience with you. I just keep thinking about the whole experience and weighing it against the homily that touched me this weekend...either way, I have to say, I was profoundly touched by both.