I’m waiting for the dirt to dry. Well, of course, since it’s wet, it’s mud at the moment. After it dries, I have to brush off the loose dirt and stack up all these special cards and give them to Beth Anne to be mailed. They need to get where they are going in plenty of time for February 2.
I have always been entertained by the concept of Groundhog Day: it is a completely silly and uniquely American holiday. Pick up any calendar and you’ll find February 2 appropriately labeled using the same font, which is the print version of “tone of voice,” as Palm Sunday, Ramadan, and Rosh Hashanah. But in this particular year, 2018, February 2 is a lot more than Groundhog Day.
It begins the Centennial celebration of the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity. Ladies and Gentlemen, one hundred years ago a handful of women signed some articles of incorporation in Russell County, Alabama, and we were born! More or less.
We have a lot of activities planned to celebrate our history this year, but tonight I am preparing something for the simplest activity. I just spent my evening dipping a wet cloth into a ziploc bag of dirt and smudging it across the bottom of a few hundred prayer cards. The dirt is from Holy Trinity, Alabama. Specifically, from Blessed Trinity Shrine Retreat, where our first Motherhouse was built. Where Father Judge and Mother Boniface walked. Holy ground!
As I carried out this tedious chore, I reflected on religious references to dirt. I remembered Genesis, of course, how God fashioned us from the earth. And I remembered Ash Wednesday: Remember, O woman, that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return. As I smeared the cards, I could feel the ashes smeared on my forehead over the years. But then I remembered the blind man. Jesus spat on the ground, made mud, rubbed it on the blind man’s eyes, and … not all at once … he began to see!
Yes, it is just dirt. It is the reminder of our humanity and of our mortality. As I worked, I reflected on the fact that Father Judge and Mother Boniface were just like us: doing the best they could, not knowing for sure which decision was the right one, feeling their way forward like one whose sight is only half on the way to being restored. So for us, this is holy dirt. It is the miracle of vision for one who could not see. It is the fertile soil from which we grew. Holy mud.
I think the cards are dry now.