Tired, heartsick, homesick, depressed. Sad, so terribly sad.
That was me arriving in the United States in March of 1994 after fifteen years in Europe.
I’d left behind a lovely home and wonderful friends in Spain. A European lifestyle and outlook on life. A European culture at my fingertips. The Mediterranean half a mile away with miles of white sand.
It was Spanish small-town life at its best.
The baker knew my name and would save a small round brown loaf for me.
The greengrocer would tell me which fruits or vegetables were best right then.
Even the cashier at the small supermarket checkout would laugh and nod, pointing at my weekly roast chicken. Oh, those spices which I can still taste!
My new reality was a foreign county. Foreign foods. Habits. Manners.
And a marriage that needed work.
My dogs were in Spain.
My daughter at school in Switzerland.
No, it was not a happy time in my life. And I could not “get a grip.” I found myself slithering into a dark abyss.
A friend picked up on this mess and said, “there’s a priest in town who spent sixteen years in Belgium. He will understand what you are going through.”
Such was my desperation that I didn’t hesitate to pick up the phone.
“Father Peter,” I said. “I’m not Catholic and you don’t know me, but I need help.”
“How soon can you get here?” he said.
He became my lifeline as I struggled to adapt. Mother Church wrapped her arms around me and held tight as I floundered to find a foothold.
My faith grew but I still had to make that final decision.
Pack my bags and go back to Spain and Europe and the life I loved.
Stay, don’t look back and create a new life in what was, for me, a very strange land.
And always, Father Peter was there.
Time went by.
We left Pittsfield, MA.
I never lost touch with Father Peter. He came to Florida when our daughter was killed. He came again to Vermont to bury her.
And this past weekend, twenty-four years after attending my first mass with Father Peter presiding, I was back in Pittsfield, MA.
He’s retired now and helps as required. Priests never really retire!
Once again, I was privileged to receive the Eucharist from him. To feel his hand on my forehead as he prayed over me.
Like all those many years ago.
Cyber hugs and Blessings All. My wish for you today?
May you all have a Father Peter or similar in your life to guide you when the road is full obstacles.