Home yesterday from our annual pilgrimage to Glenwood Springs, Colorado where we ring in the new year with a fabulous celebration of friends and new life. Our days are filled with foosball tourneys/ games/ movies/ laughing/ crying/ way-too-late nights/ early mornings and non-stop eating. It’s great!
Teresa and I made the traditional trek up to St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass to celebrate Eucharist with the monks on January 1. Abbott Joseph Boyle prepares a dialogic homily for this holy day where all are invited to contribute a thought or prayer. This year he started by saying “Today we have four themes: it is the Octave of Christmas, the Solemnity of Mary, a day to pray for World Peace and the start of a new year. We have much to discuss!”
Liturgy at the monastery is always so warm and intimate… although I have to say that -24F on this day kept me all bundled up even indoors. I especially needed to be there this year to receive a dose of healing balm after another round of ministry heartache. It was good medicine for my soul. Mary and her Ruby Slippers blessed me once again.
Oh wait! Could it be that you don’t know the story of Mary and the Ruby Slippers? Well, pull up a hunk of floor, child and listen with the ear of your heart…
Several years ago in a monastery tucked deep in the beautiful valley of Snowmass, Colorado, there lived a kindly Cistercian monk named Brother Thomas. On January 1st of that year, we celebrated the liturgy of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. We chanted Gregorian-style, we talked and we sang, we blessed bread and wine with hands and hearts and we celebrated Paschal Mystery together. Afterward, a most remarkable prayer happened. Brother Thomas asked Teresa and I and another woman to come pray the blessing of the ruby slippers with him.
We walked over to the only stained glass window in the chapel… a beautiful tall modern artwork of Mary wearing red shoes and holding baby Jesus. Brother Thomas climbed onto a small shelf, reached his hands high overhead and placed them on Mary’s shoes. While he prayed silently, we laid our hands on his back and prayed for him. We each took a turn placing our prayer hands on her feet. I felt the surge of energy run through me from Mary and from my prayer partners’ touch. Powerful.
After we all prayed, Brother Thomas said: You know where that comes from don’t you? We shook our heads, thinking it was from some historical theological text, but he said From Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. We smiled and the other woman said That’s a great image. There’s no place like home. To be home in Christ.
Each year since that day I have found myself in that very chapel on January 1… it now marks a special ritual time in my soul. And… Brother Thomas has always been there to point the way toward Mary’s ruby slippers. However a couple of days ago, he was in the gift shop visiting with others when Teresa and I slipped back into the chapel. I stepped up onto the shelf and put my hands on her shoes… tears filled my eyes. Mary said to me: It’s okay my love… everything is going to be okay. Don’t worry… be at peace.
I haven’t been the same since.