The Gathering of Virtue

Our beloved Deacon Howard George Shannon passed away on Friday, September 21st, while my husband and I were in Seattle, helping my son move into his freshman dorm. We returned home with heavy hearts, yet grateful for so much. His funeral will be this Wednesday at 1pm.

The weekend proved difficult as the sorrow of this time seemed to tug on me, and I found myself unable to be very productive. I swept the floors, and unpacked, and wiped down the counters, then I found myself quiet on the couch, unable to muster much beyond just sitting there. And then I think your prayers all kicked in. A peace settled over me and I found myself filled with joy, and looking forward to celebrating and grieving with my church community.

These days leading up to the service, I’m mindful of Deacon Howard’s legacy of joy. His spirit of giving was infectious and I’m hopeful that some of his goodness has rubbed off on me. I pray so. Over these last several weeks, as he struggled for life, the show of love for this man has been overwhelming. And it’s because he gave us all so much LOVE these last many years–he gave so much of himself–every time, every moment we were together. Always a smile, always a joke and a wink and a chuckle. Always fun and life and the gift of being completely present. And I have this image in my mind of my hands scooping gently up some of the virtue that dwelled in him, that is swirling slowly around us now, here for the taking. A gift from him. A gift to all of us.

And so I’m baking bread, and giving it away, and baking cookies, and sharing them. And I’m so very thankful to have known such a wonderful man…

Praying for Godpapa

Just writing the title, I begin again to tear. Just writing Godpapa.

I’m afraid everything is colored sorrow at the moment. We are in the midst of an immense battle for life, through prayer. My son’s Godfather, whom I posted about a few weeks ago, has had an awful turn for the worse. During the recovery, after his surgery, something–many things–went awry, and only a miracle now, today, will bring him home to us. I continue to pray.

My son leaves for Seattle, for a new life and adventure in college in just a few days. He and I made the long trek down the coast of Southern California, through the stop-and-go traffic, to USC’s Keck Hospital to see his godfather. Once there, we scurried up the stairs and entered the ICU where everyone works in hushed tones and monitors beep, and patients are fighting for their lives. I have to say, Deacon Howard’s room, his wife Gail curled into a chair, his daughter massaging his feet, was a haven of love and beauty and even home. We brought a handmade Saint Brigid’s cross, one from this lovely night (Deacon Howard is pictured in one of the photos–he has the most awesome white mustache!), and a bag of  fresh peaches for Gail.

Bless him! I held his hand, and kissed his arm, and rubbed his feet. We prayed, and talked, and my son’s eyes grew redder and redder, and we all cried together, and spoke words of peace. But the sorrow hangs heavy. The doctors were all there–all huddled–all looking beaten and grave. Mother Viktoria was there, too–thank God. Thank God.

Today is the day for a miracle, folks!

And it’s another day for giving thanks.

I’m thankful for: Deacon Howard and Gail, and all the love they’ve showed us as a family, and the special attention they’ve given my son, Andrew. I’m thankful for the people who filled in for me so I could take Andrew to the hospital–picking up the other kids, tending to them, etc… I’m thankful for prayer and the comfort it brings. I’m thankful for a community that bands together like glue when need be; I’m thankful for the fountain and the sunshine outside my office, offering sweet notes of light and encouragement to me today. I’m grateful to all of you who have whispered prayers on Deacon Howard’s behalf. And I’m comforted to know that Heaven is just a wisp away, and that death opens a door to that place where all the saints stand, cheering us along!

I ask your continued prayers…

Giving–February Play by Play

Four loaves of French bread

Mixed: 8 pm

Molded: 10:30 pm

(Retarded overnight)

Baked: 7:30 am

Gave two to a family with a newborn, one to a super science teacher…

The morning started with baking. The French mix I made had too much moisture… The bread came out looking super yicky. I decided to give it away, anyway. Lent is a time for humility!

Contrast this to the bread my brothers are making in their new bakery in LA. Ooh, la la. That sourdough is beyond words…

Off to science class. Dropped my daughter off to learn about molecules. Then made my way down the road to deliver two loaves of the ugly French to a family with a brand new babe. The mama’s a redhead–and I’m partial to those whose recessive hair genes won out. They were having a bit of a rough morning, so I gave the bread, and a book, and off we sped.

To the playground!

And in the mix of the twenty or so children jumping, digging, swinging and begging for snacks, I spotted a busy redhead burning off her morning’s cinnamon toast. Look at her go!

Then I bought a donut for my traveling companion, and we talked about how to make chocolate machines for a while.

The donut gone–we strolled a while, then bumped into a crocodile.

(I wish–that’s right out of one of my favorite children’s books, Tumble Bumble.)

We picked up my daughter, where I learned that one of the molecule experiments got a little too lively. The teacher recommended bringing goggles next week. 🙂

And now I’m home, wanting to redeem myself and bake a loaf of beautiful bread.

Onward!