Angels in our midst

I was on Route 1 nearing the turn for Mt. Irenaeus when suddenly I spotted three deer entering the roadway about a tenth mile ahead. One looked normal and the other two looked different. From a distance they almost looked like fawns, but then as I got closer I realized that two of the deer were albino. I have never seen anything like that, but here on Sunday morning as I neared Mt. Irenaeus I saw three deer.

Almost immediately I thought of the Trinity and Rublev. It may be a metaphoric stretch to move from three deer to the trinity but maybe not. Why not? This had been a week tinged with sadness. Jan Walker, the most senior member of our Secular Franciscan Fraternity had died suddenly. Since last Monday, the day she died, she has been in my thoughts. Jan was our formation director. She was somewhat larger than life and a very un-pretentious young lady barely past fifty, who had a number of degrees including a Juris Doctor from Loyola of Chicago.

Maybe it was Jan and the week just past that made me more contemplative than usual but the sighting of those three deer were part of the gift of life this morning as I made my way up Hydetown Road, on to Wetherby and then up Roberts Road to Holy Peace Chapel. I was running a bit late and really not sure I’d be able to get up the hill due to a heavy snowfall on Saturday night. Fortunately a Town of Wirt snow plow and sander had preceded me and I made it to the top and into the chapel in time for the beginning of Mass.

Jan’s presence was palpable in the chapel as many people remembered her. There was a tinge of sadness, but it was overcome by the overwhelming presence of beautiful sunshine streaming through ice and snow covered trees that surrounded the chapel and were visible through the large windows behind the altar. Jan’s life was a celebration of life. She was very Franciscan, very incarnational in her approach to all she did. Today was one of those days that really smacks of incarnation.

In the light of today’s gospel of the raising of Lazarus, I thought again of the two white deer and their companion. There was symbolism here in the transition from life to death. Two angels escorting one who recently left our midst. All this on the road to Mt. Irenaeus.

As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God. My being thirsts for God, the living God. When can I go and see the face of God?–Psalm 42