Getting hit with the bad, and with the beautiful

So how was your holiday weekend?

Mine did not go exactly as planned.

On the way to Mass on Sunday, my car got rear-ended.  What’s more, it happened on exactly the same off-ramp where I got rear-ended five years ago.  I now officially hate that off-ramp.  It is cursed.  I will be going to great lengths, figuratively and literally,  to avoid ever using it again.

It wasn’t that bad a bump, honestly, but the truck that hit us had a huge tow hitch thingy on its front bumper, which did some damage.   I will be getting a new bumper and a new back door whenever I can get the car into the body shop.  Honestly: I need this like I need a hole in the head.

But as we drove to Mass (late, as we usually are, only this time we had a good excuse), I tried to look at the positive side.  No one was hurt.  The car is still drivable.  I have to take the car in, but at least I’ll be on vacation soon, which is far easier than trying to do the delicate dance of drop off/pickup while also rushing to get to school on time.  And you know, all told, it’s better to be the poor rear-ended driver than the one who did the rear-ending. (I know whereof I speak, alas — but that’s a tale for another time.)

Still, when we go to Mass, I was a tad rattled.  I chased Lukey around the crying room and tried to listen to the readings and basically attempted to get myself into a slightly happier mental space.  When Lukey started to get too loud even for the crying room, I picked him up and walked him around the back of the church.  And here’s the cool part:

I noticed, up on the altar, the statue of Mary.  It happened to be smack in the middle of a ray of sunlight that was beaming down from the skylight above.  Seriously, it was like a theatrical spotlight.  She was radiant.  And I was stunned: first, by the beauty of it all, and second, by the coincidence of it all.

The light was amazing, too, because as I looked at it, I could see something shifting and moving, and I realized it was the incense from earlier in the Mass.  It was rising upwards, dispersing almost imperceptibly.  In that rectangular shaft of sunlight, you could actually see it floating and uncurling in gorgeous dreamy shapes.  It was like hope made visible.   It made me, suddenly, very happy.

This is how we get through the collisions of life: we just try to notice the light.  If we’re lucky, it comes in a huge dramatic fashion, like that spotlight right on Mary.  I think these big, unmissable moments train us to notice it in all its other, subtler forms too.  That’s my theory, anyhow.

To recap: I have a dinged-up door and bumper, but I also have a memory of breathtaking, incandescent beauty.

Maybe it wasn’t so bad a Sunday after all.

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