Sunday, November 05, 2006


BlessedVirgin Mary statue - Presentation of Mary Academy

Posted on the 7th Day of the 30th Week of Ordinary Time - 2006 AD - (Year B)

Today, it's the 4th of November. Tomorrow, here in the UK we celebrate Guy Fawkes night. Guy Fawkes, by the way, was a Roman Catholic, but that's another story. Bonfire Night actually celebrates his grisly demise at the hands of the British Government. I still take my daughter to see the fireworks though, because she loves them, but secretly I'm rooting for Guy Fawkes, the guy in the bonfire, as it were. So I'm standing here in a freezing cold field. Public Guy Fawkes celebrations are always on the Saturday, even when Nov 5th falls on an alternate day. In a freezing cold field with my daughter who is wearing a wooly hat. Cursing myself again (I do this every year) for thinking it is warmer than it is, forgetting that I will be standing there for almost an hour and it will both get and feel colder as time goes on. We queue for hotdogs and soup.

The old ladies manning the soup tent, they are here every year, giving up their own time to do this. For some reason I half watch them as we are standing in the queue. Grey, dowdily dressed, invisible. But tonight they are not invisible and for some reason I am fixated by them, their almost invisibility. The harsh lights from the soup tent fall on them, one goes off and back on and one of them says "Let there be light!" or something similar. They all chuckle and carry on serving the customers, most of whom look through them, as if they are transparent. The closer I get, the more I watch, spellbound, as if I am seeing into some kind of hidden, secret place. Seeing people no one else can see. They are old, frail, but immediate and vital. Grace fills every movement as if the hand of Our Lady was resting on each of them as they stood there or moved around in the soup tent, in the cold, in the chatter of the queue, the harsh arc lights, the noise of a petrol driven generator, smells of soup and hotdogs. What makes them invisible also gives them humiliy, they have nothing to prove, they are just there, working in the soup tent, doing what they are doing, nothing more, nothing less. Harsh golden light falls across their faces and I am forced to think of Angels, the old ladies as Angels and Angels all around them. Hidden, unseen, invisible.

We pay for our hotdog and soup and wander off to the bonfire. At least good old Guy is warm. As usual, the fireworks are on the way to becoming spectacular without really making it. My daughter has forgotten her scarf, so she pulls my arm around her neck and cuddles it to keep warm. The sky is alive with fireflies, sparks and bright trails of different colours. Smoke and fire rises to the sky as Grace pours down upon us in all our God filled days.

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