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"Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. I am vast. I contain multitudes." -Walt Whitman

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Friday, January 20, 2006

a minor miracle

here's how the story was told to me. or at least, here's how i remember it.

edna was my grandmother on my father's side. she was a kind, god-fearing woman. i spent a week or two each summer with a cousin visiting at edna's house, where she lived with my aunt. sometime before i turned ten, edna died.

edna's sister grace begat george, my father's cousin. cousin george is a capuchin friar, and the pastor of our lady of the blessed sacrament in guam. in december 2002, super typhoon (yes, that's what they call 'em when the winds are at 150-175 mph) pongsona devastated guam. george was blown out a second story window, luckily surviving without any serious injuries. the friary was not so fortunate - the building was destroyed.

it took a year to raise the money to begin the rebuilding of the friary in earnest. a local historian was granted permission to sift through the basement rubble in the hopes of finding items to salvage for the guam historical society. he unearthed an old valise, the property of a capuchin who had died years before pongsona buried his belongings beneath his friary. opening the suitcase, the historian discovered molded vestal garments and, below them, a chalice.

he cleaned the chalice as best he could and then handed it to george, certain george would recognize it and be grateful for its return. george was puzzled, having never seen the chalice before.

he was stunned, therefore, to discover the detail that had made the historian certain george would recognize the goblet. the chalice was engraved along the bottom rim. it was a name.

edna maddock.

no one in the family has any idea where the chalice originated, or knew of its existence prior to its discovery in the ruins of a friary in guam. no one knows when, where, or why it came to be engraved with my grandmother's name; nor is it known how it came to her nephew's church a half a world away from where she lived and died. no one knows how long it lay in the valise, or how the deceased friar came to possess it.

today george brings the chalise with him on his occasional sojourns stateside. not too terribly long ago, he used the chalice while celebrating mass in a house on long island for family and friends. of course, it was edna's house.

a homecoming of sorts, i suppose.
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i used to be disgusted. now i try to be amused.
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