by Diana Breeze, one of our Winslow vocations.
Who was your childhood hero? Was it a comic book character, a sports star, a singer, a saint? What was it about him or her that captured your heart?
Reflecting on the 50th anniversary of our mission house in Winslow brought back many memories. I grew up a block away from the Casa, and my grandmother lived right next door to it. I spent a lot of time there when I was growing up. But why? What was it that drew me there?
I could write about the toy and clothing sales, about the feast days when my family would go over for a celebration, about the birthday parties or Thanksgivings when the staff came over to our house, but there was something more. For me, the Casa was about presence, relationships, and a hero.
Recently a friend told me why Spider-Man was his childhood hero. It was, he said, because Spider-Man was human. He had weaknesses, but he used his extraordinary abilities to help others. He got hurt, but he got up and returned to the battle. Spider-Man, he said, was "real."
I’ve seen Spider-Man 1 and 2 and truly enjoyed them, and now I am looking forward to seeing Spider-Man 3 when I have the chance. But my hero wasn’t Spider-Man.
My hero was human and real. She didn’t have any web-slinging abilities, but that didn’t matter to me when I was ten years old. She was a "madonna," (what we in Winslow call the Madonna House staff workers), and she was beautiful and had an incredible singing voice. I loved to listen to her sing, but there was more than that.
In her presence I felt strength and grace, and I wanted to be near her so I could become like her. Maybe I, too, could be beautiful, strong, and graceful. And the singing voice? Well, that would take some serious work.
How does one become beautiful, strong, and graceful? She went to daily Mass, so I would go, too. What else did she do? The only way to find out was to hang out at the Casa. So I spent a lot of time there, and I learned about Goodness, Beauty, and Truth.
I experienced the presence of Christ, not in what the staff did for me, but in who they were. And they were real. I saw them struggle with life, with loving others, with obedience, and with poverty. I witnessed this, but even more I witnessed their faithfulness in the struggle.
And as they stood in their own struggles, they stood with me in mine. They weren’t there to "help" me, but to be faithful to what Christ desired them to be with me.
For this I am grateful.
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