Monday, June 8, 2009

The Power of the Spirit

One year ago today, a six-year-old girl, Mackenzie Maddox and her mother, Andrea, were hit by a car while crossing the street. Mackenzie did not survive. Her family continues to grieve,deeply. Although I have never met this family, I too, grieve with them...

I’m amazed when I realize how the Holy Spirit uses people to bring about good in this world. I am even more amazed when I realize that the Holy Spirit uses me to console others. I feel so small and little, how can I be of any use to anyone, I wonder? And then He shows me that all I have to do is something small and little, and that’s enough.

I learned about a song from the Unitarian Church called “Everything is Holy Now”. It was about how God can be found everywhere, in everything. I liked that idea and ever since I heard about it, I have been doing my best to see God everywhere, in everything.

I am an occasional runner. Last year, while running past a local park, I noticed two yellow birds flying together, in obvious joy, near a glade of evergreen trees. I felt God’s presence in those birds and ran home to write a poem about it. It wasn’t much of a poem, nothing that I thought I would ever share with anyone, but it became a prayer for me whenever I ran past those trees, to thank God with the words “Everything is Holy Now”.

Then one day, I noticed a road-side memorial set up by that glade of trees, the kind that commemorates the death of someone at that location. While watching the local news, I learned that a six-year-old girl, Mackenzie, was hit by a car and died at that very spot. I struggled to see what could possibly be holy in the death of a young girl.

A few days later, at morning Mass, Fr. Dave announced that he was presiding at Mackenzie's funeral. He said that he was praying to the Holy Spirit to help him find the right words to say.

After Mass, I asked Fr. Dave why he would find it so hard to find the words to say at the funeral, after all, hasn’t he presided at thousands of funerals? He answered, with tears in his eyes, that funerals for children are rare. So, I told him about my poem. I said it wasn’t much, but maybe he would find it to be helpful and he said he would like to see it. I e-mailed my poem to him, and later during that same day, he wrote back saying that Mackenzie's mother, Andrea, liked the poem and they decided to use it to begin the eulogy homily.

God used me and my simple little poem, to bring a bit of healing and comfort to a grieving family. Isn't it amazing, that there are times when we are compelled to do something without understanding why we need to do it, and after we follow through, we realize that our compulsion had nothing to do with us, but everything to do with God's will for us?

The power of the Spirit…

It has been one year today since Mackenzie died. The roadside memorial is still standing, often refreshed by loving and grieving family members. I continue to thank God with the prayer “Everything is Holy Now” whenever I run past the memorial, because I believe that Mackenzie is in heaven and it is she who is holy now.

I ask God to comfort all of the parents who grieve the loss of their children, I ask Him to cradle all of the sweet babies that have gone to heaven too early in His gentle arms, and I ask him to continue to help us all to find the holiness in life, even when it is difficult.

Yellow Birds

At the edge of the park, there is a beautiful glade of evergreen trees.
The ground around them is covered with wildflowers and tall grasses.

I watch in joy and wonder as two bright yellow birds
dance and flutter among the flowers.

I am filled with a delightful awe
at the quiet beauty that you have
blessed this world with, Lord.

A prayer comes to my mind and heart-
“Everything is Holy Now.”

May the soul of Mackenzie and all of the souls of the faithful departed,through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. This story has touched our family too. A year ago we were driving down 84th street and came upon an accident scene with a little blanket covering a little body in the middle of the road, across the street was a mother lying on the ground crying in agony. It was disturbing for my children and myself to be so close to the tragedy and an image I would rather not recall. Since then we drive past the road side grave every day and think about the family. On the 8th there was a group of people gathered with balloons, candles, and food, having a celebration. We were wondering if it was Mackenzie's bday. Now I know it was the anniversary of her death. It was good to see her loved ones gathered together to remember her and share their grief. Thanks for the short prayer "everything is holy now" I am going to teach that to my children and remember to say that as I pass by everyday and when the image of the accident enters my head. It helps make sence of such a horrible event and is a wonderful gift to give to Mackenzie and her family by connecting her death to God's greatness. I'm sure they are celebrating in heaven with that little girl there.