Many years ago, when I was only five or six, my father found a tourist attraction very close to where we lived in northeast New Jersey that he thought my brother and I would like. This attraction was called Fairy Tale Forest. Here, the fairy tales were brought to life. You could meet all the heroes and heroines as well as the villains in each of the stories. There was a tour guide who would introduce actors playing these characters. Needless to say, to meet the Wicked Witch was a bit frightening.
One of the keenest memories I have of that trip was walking through the forest of Hansel and Gretel. I do not know if it was actually a tunnel that was painted to appear to be a forest, but all I do remember was that it was SO, SO dark. I can remember holding on to my dad’s hand quite hard. I was happy to see the bread crumbs that the two children left for us. I can remember bending over to see if the white objects on the ground were indeed bread crumbs. To my dismay, I found out that they were rocks that were painted white and glued to the ground.
Over the last couple of weeks, I have been “chewing” on the importance of “spiritual crumbs.” Let me explain.
When I was a novice preparing the liturgy for the Profession of First Vows, we looked at the readings of the day. The Gospel for August 16 that year was the Syrophoenician Woman from Matthew 15:21-28. My novice directress did not think that this was appropriate for First Vows, so since it was a weekday, we changed the Gospel reading for the ceremony. Because of this, the reading always intrigued me and the idea of “crumbs” falling from the table of the master was placed deep within my heart. The grace of that pondering has finally made itself visible.
Two weeks ago, as I was in a virtual formation session with the Permanent Diaconate candidates, Father Schenck, director of the program, was celebrating Mass for us virtually. His laptop was placed behind him. At the moment in which he genuflected during the consecration, I finally “owned” that the hunger I felt about receiving Jesus in Holy Communion was the “crumb” from the Master’s table! This moment of grace made me cry copiously. Since my camera was on, all the candidates could see me wiping my eyes.
At the end of Mass and the formation session, one of the candidates asked me if I was ok because he realized that I was crying. I shared with them the grace and told them that when they are deacons, kneeling to the left of the celebrant, they are receiving “a crumb” from the master’s table.
We call these “spiritual crumbs” by another word: grace. Most moments of grace come to us in gentle, tiny whispers that, if we’re not attuned to, can be easily overlooked. This time of stay-at-home has taught me that these grace-filled crumbs that my Beloved bestows upon us are proof not only of his love but also of his abiding presence. He IS walking side by side with us!
Through the silence and the solitude, he is whispering an invitation to each of us to be nearer to him. Have we taken advantage of this time to respond to this invitation?
Little things do matter! Saying please and thank you matters! Sharing what you have with others matters! Opening your heart to the gentle rain of grace builds the Kingdom of God. HERE. NOW. In the midst of a pandemic!
I invite you to chew on this spiritual crumb!
By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, Special to The Witness