Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Fragments

"Even if you aren't good, God will love you into goodness, if you allow it.  And God will love you into generosity, and He will love you into honesty, if you open your heart to Him."  ~Bishop Richard Sklba

Retired Auxiliary Bishop Sklba
At Old St. Mary Parish we are blessed to pray with retired auxiliary Bishop Richard Sklba two mornings each week at daily Mass and on some Sunday mornings as well.  My family has come to love him and my children often comment that they think it would be great if he were a grandfather to them.  His gentle, quiet style makes for peaceful prayer and he never fails to leave his homily listeners with a nugget or two of wisdom that can draw us closer to the Lord.

On a  recent Sunday morning when the Gospel reading was about the loaves and the fishes (Matthew 13:14-21), Bishop Sklba shared a story about a now-deceased Carmelite Sister at the Carmel of the Mother of God in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, who had written a poem called The Leftovers, and dedicated it to him.  I immediately lit up with excitement knowing that he was speaking about one of my favorite poets, Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit, also known as Jessica Powers.

Although I have read quite a bit of Jessica Powers' poetry, I could not recall reading The Leftovers.   I was unable to find it online so I finally broke down and purchased every book of hers that I could find. I am so glad to have made those purchases because I will be relishing her poetry over and over again for years to come.  The Leftovers, copied below, has much food for thought, pardon the pun.  I especially love the last line, "the fragments, too, were miracles of love."
Jessica Powers-
Sr. Mirian of the Holy Spirit

The Leftovers by Jessica Powers

With twenty loaves of bread Elisha fed
the one hundred till they were satisfied,
and scripture tells us there was bread left over.
Jesus did more:  with five small barley loaves
and two dried fish he fed five thousand men,
together with their wives and children, all
neatly arranged upon the cushioned grass.
The awed disciples, when the crowd had eaten,
gathered up what was left:  twelve baskets full.

Who then received these fragments?  Hopefully,
the least (though not less favored) and the poor.
I think of those who always seem to get
the leavings from the banqueting of others,
the scraps of bread, of life, that goodness saves.
I pray that they come proudly when invited,
make merry at their meal, and have their fill,
and rise up thankfully, remembering
the fragments, too, were miracles of love.

How often do we find ourselves getting by on fragments-cleaning out the last bit of food in the refrigerator before shopping for more, wearing an old pair of threadbare socks before finding and taking the time to do the laundry, scrounging around in our wallets to find the last dollar to give to our children for bus fare or school lunch, running out of energy and dozing off while reading a bedtime story to a toddler; giving the very last of who we are and what we have in service to the Lord and to others.  We use our resources and our very selves completely in our efforts to follow the Gospel.  Very often the ordinary moments of our entire lives are the fragments that God uses to reveal His love. And we ourselves are fragments when we are tired, hungry, over-worked, and low on funds.  We are miracles of God's love, each and every one of us, miracles meant to bring His deep love that dwells within our souls to the world around us, sharing all that we have, even though it might not be very much, with one another, so that all might know His love.


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