St. Gladys: The Prophetic Nature of Loss

 

I was alone. I am often alone. I don’t try to go there. I just do. I was writing. My work has long called me to spaces of solitude. In the midst of it all, something in my spirit moved. I moved with it. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the news, “Pope John Paul II Dead.” One name and one word can have so much power over us. Such a combination can turn our lives upside down. Such words give no warning and are not respecters of time or space. As I thought back to the many years of studying the Pope’s oratory and writings, I began to hear the cries of the faithful coming from around the world, “Santo Subito! Santo Subito! Santo Subito!” or “Sainthood Now! Sainthood Now! Sainthood Now!” The cries sent shivers down my spine. The Pope had meant so much to so many for so long that the faithful wanted to give him the honor that he was due…now!

 

I didn’t feel that way. She’d been gone too long.

 

Belief creates something more than we can see. Belief takes us beyond where we stand. Belief opens are minds to endless possibilities. I didn’t believe.

 

I went to see her one last time. The journey was long. When I got there, nobody was home. There was a body laying there…but it wasn’t her.

 

When she died it got worse, I hadn’t known her in 4 years. Her mental condition wouldn’t allow it. How are you supposed to mourn someone you don’t know? I’d already done my mourning many years back.

 

Then…

 

The resurrection found me.

 

Not long after she died, I was working on the sermon for her funeral. In the midst of it all, I saw her again. It was the grandmother I’d knew long ago. In those precious moments, she told me what to say. Tell them about love. Tell them it’s not about me. Tell them about love in the midst of differences. Tell them about the liberation that comes through strength. Don’t let anybody hold you back. You preach my message. …and I will be with you until the end of the days.

 

I did.

 

The sermon wasn’t received well. It’s hard to preach to bigots and assholes. My extended family has always worshiped racism far more than Jesus. Regardless, she came to me at night. The dream was wild. We were together. Repeatedly, she kept telling me to keep fighting for the least of these. Her hair was puffed up. Her makeup was on. She was even wearing her glasses. It was her. Love swirled all around us. Carry my love with you.

 

I have.

 

Just last night, she told me not to listen to anybody that questions my work. Jesus is guiding you. Follow him and you will be…

 

Intercessor.

 

Healer.

 

Prophet.

 

Santo subito?

 

St. Gladys.

 

Amen.

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