It happened at mass - we were kneeling before communion.
It had been a graced time - this mass, as 7 year old was less wiggle worm
and more singing her heart out to Jesus, affectionate with us.
So we are kneeling and I am thanking the lord even as I am repenting
some bitterness I have held onto saying the words so woven
into my fabric of being
"Lord I am not worthy to receive you but only say the word and I shall ...
mom...mom...what's the word?"
And my world stopped.
I remember in an instant our firstborn asking the question
at St. Mary's during morning mass.
Took me a while to get it - oh the word, like a secret
that could only be whispered in sacred passageways - the word...
I was the young mom then, new and eager in all things.
The word is yes, God says yes to heal us and
his word makes it happen - god keeps his promises.
For days she was so excited about keeping promises,
excited that if she asked
and God said Yes then God would do it!
She liked a God who made promises and kept them.
A couple of years later and we are kneeling in Mary Star of the Sea.
Our son is preparing for his first communion -
so excited he plays at saying mass with necco wafers -
when he leans over to me and with hushed conspiratorial tones
asks, mom, mom, what's the word?
He is looking for the password - the way to get it to happen,
the magical secret that gets God on your side.
It means when God made you he made you to be happy and holy -
he wants you to be happy and holy.
If you ask him, he will do it, forgive you, make you whole,
make you happy.
Neccos to his sisters in the backyard for weeks following
include a command from him- say the word! say the word!
His sisters don't get it but he keeps insisting.
They kneel and wait for Neccos.
That makes them happy.
I ponder the hunger we all have for that word.
More years pass, a new house and a new parish -
kneeling at Holy Trinity and our youngest (at the time)
asks her Dad.
I smile, off the hook.
But he turns to me - c'mon, mom what's the word?
I'm the teacher, so out it comes
It's a bible story - the centurion (Matt 8:8)
who said those words and Jesus healed his servant.
It means if we have faith and ask Jesus for help,
he will help and heal us.
"Can he fix my ears", she asked?
Yes, he gave us Dr Jackson to do that.
Twenty-one years later here we are,
kneeling at mass in St. Therese and history repeats itself...
"mommy... mommy...what's the word?"
She loves secret words, whispered, companions in mystery.
But living the mystery changes us
so I do not give her an answer -
I ask...what do you think?
"I'm not sure," she says.
"Is it just one word or a whole sentence?"
You pick, I say, waiting.
"I think its just a word...
I am sure you are right.
Let it be so.