by Theresa Girard.
There are many rooms in my Father’s house (Jn 14:2). Only after the first two weeks did I finally stop circling the main floor in my attempt to find a side exit!
This house, which is well over a hundred years old, has a mazelike quality and a Gone with the Wind staircase. It has character, it has history, and because it has been a poustinia house for 28 years, it is also steeped in prayer. As St. Peter once said to our Lord, It is good that we are here (Mt 17:4).
It has been almost six years since I visited Roanoke, and I had forgotten the sights and sounds of this particular "room" of Madonna House. The Blue Ridge Mountains surrounding the city, though their colors were muted when I arrived in winter, were still magnificent, and I breathed them in each morning. And having left the Combermere winter, I found the mild weather wonderful.
But there is another side to Roanoke. I had also forgotten the violence of the nights—the sounds of shouting and fighting.
The hype of the American primary elections, along with the constant talk of the economy, seemed to add a unique mixture of fear and uncertainty to the atmosphere.
Moreover, Virginia Tech, the university where on April 16, 2007, a student shot and killed 32 fellow students and teachers and wounded many others, is less that an hour’s drive away. The traumatic effects of this terrible tragedy are still very present.
In the midst of this, as the daily rhythm of life unfolds, in Our Lady’s house at 828 Campbell Avenue, we live the hiddenness of Nazareth.
My first week here, I met a stream of friends of the house, friends who are key threads in its fabric, and at the end of the week at the Saturday morning Mass, I met more of the faithful. And amidst the visits to people, soup-making, paper work, thank you notes, and phone calls, Patricia Lawton and I squeezed in a talk to the R.C.I.A. in a town called Radford.
I came across a wonderful quote by St. Pachomius. "The will of God is that we put ourselves at the service of men, and the love of God consists in our taking trouble for one another."
I have seen this in action here with all those who come in and out of our house. I have seen the hearts of my sisters pray and suffer with people.
I also experience this love firsthand as Beverly Maciag and Patricia have taken in us visiting staff with such gentle and loving care over this past month—staff who are working on visas to live in MH Russia or who have been sent here for "r and r" (rest and restoration).
This is the mystery of Nazareth at work. It’s so hidden we can’t see it at times. But in this house we bring Christ to the world, "impacting the world with the Gospel," one smile at a time, one cup of tea after another. In it all, his presence is made manifest.
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