It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. (John 15:16)
I missed the Friday deadline for reservations for the Women’s Day of Reflection at a neighboring parish. I called the facilitator on Sunday to tell her I would bring the reservations for myself and a friend to the parish office on Monday morning.
After Mass in my parish on Monday, I drove to Sacred Heart parish on my way to water aerobics class at the Y. The double glass doors to the church building and offices wouldn’t budge. I saw no lights on and heard no sound from inside the building, even though it was 8:50.
The air conditioner came on beside the historic white wooden chapel across the courtyard. Perhaps they were having mass and I could give the reservations to a staff member. I was curious to see what this 1899 treasure looked like inside.
I pulled hard to get the wooden door of the chapel open. The interior was surprisingly bright and tranquil. The restored chapel has light colors on the walls and around the altar. The two dozen or so wooden pews with kneelers invited me to pray and then creaked in response. The priest was just sitting down at the end of mass. Only the sound of the air conditioner outside broke the silence.
Then the priest rose and blessed the congregation of about two or three dozen parishioners. I asked a woman if she worked in the office. She didn’t. “What time does the office open?” She said, “8:30.” I wondered why it wasn’t open at 8:50.
I waited for the priest to come down the aisle, the only way I could see for him to exit the building. Perhaps he would take the envelope in my hand and give it to the office staff when they arrived.
He brought out the monstrance for adoration and began devotional prayers to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Of course! This was Sacred Heart Church. I was so glad to have this extra prayer time in front of the Blessed Sacrament that I spent ten minutes kneeling on the hard wooden kneeler behind the last pew.
Realizing I was late to the Y, I followed two women out of the chapel and walked back across the courtyard to the main building. The double doors were still locked. No light was visible, but now I heard voices. I tried the side door near the voices. Sure enough, that door was open and I completed my errand.
As I walked back to my car I realized that the side door was probably open when I first arrived. I felt a little foolish and then I realized that maybe God wanted some extra time with me. Maybe that’s why I didn’t see any lights or hear any voices earlier. Yes, the ten minutes of adoration were a special gift that I almost missed because I was trying get to exercise class on time. God wanted me to see that beautiful little chapel and spend these few minutes with me. I felt humbled and loved by this brief experience.
As I exercised in water aerobics class ten minutes less than usual, I treasured a secret in my heart. This secret ten minutes of love one-on-one with the Lord wasn’t on my schedule. I hadn’t planned on it. But he had. Everything that happens to us is designed by God to teach us holiness.
When has a delay in your schedule brought you an unforeseen blessing?
Copyright 2014, Nancy Ward