I don't believe in common miracles, and I neither look for nor expect "signs."
But when I receive a clear message - one that soundly trashes the myth of coincidence - I like to share it.
Palm Sunday ushered in Holy Week; my favorite week of the year. This Lent has been extraordinary. I gave up things I had held tightly to for years. In return, the Lord gave me more than I offered, and I suffered far less than I usually do for those forty days.
On Sunday morning I went to Mass with an expectant, happy heart. In a new way this season, I've felt Jesus loving me personally. Instead of feeling guilt about my ability or inability to give up or take on, I felt peaceful, grateful, and loved. Father's sermon, Franciscan in its simplicity, charmingly delivered with a slight accent (is it Irish? Australian?) touched me deeply. It was, as it should be, about love.
He spoke of the Passion as told by Matthew. We had just read it together, standing too long, fidgeting like children. Father told me after Mass that it was his fifth reading of the Gospel for the weekend. You would never have known.
Father highlighted the sorrow of this version of Jesus' Passion, in particular the loneliness that Our Lord suffered. I was struck especially by his description of the Agony in the Garden. I've often contemplated the garden, and this time I lingered there. We forget sometimes that the first blood of the Passion was spilled in the garden. We forget that some of Jesus' most profound suffering occurred there.
The sermon concluded with an invitation to look at the crucifix and hear what Jesus says from it: I love you. His personal love for me seemed so clear, so overwhelming. I found myself drying tears, something I do so rarely. For years, since I lost her, I have shed so few.
I wiped my eyes and wondered at the joy I felt. It was time for Mass to continue; the collection basket was passed, and we were instructed to open our missals for the offertory hymn. It was then that Jesus gave me a sweet little gift, a reminder that yes, He really did love ME.
Pretty much from nowhere it fell into my lap. Did it fall from the pages of my hymnal? From the collection basket? Had it been there all along? Who knows, but like love, it was just there: a pink heart, the kind a child might have cut from construction paper to give to mommy. A valentine! A reminder of love.
Grinning and crying, I showed it to my husband. "Were you thinking of her?" he asked. I shook my head no; "But she must have been thinking of me." I had been thinking of how much I am loved by God. I realized then that Celeste, who was all about hearts and all things pink, was inextricably tied into my relationship with Jesus. She was an embodiment of His love for me, one of the living examples of his love.
I am amazed by his compassion, his generosity, his kindness. He loves me, and all he did, he did for love.