The shirt box

| Alyssa Bormes | February 29, 2016 | 0 Comments

Treasures are funny. So are those little boxes that we keep them in. Usually, when someone finds our treasure chests, the “treasure” part might not be immediately recognizable. I have an old shirt box with scraps of paper, and it is full of gems — that is, they are gems to me: written gems.

Here are a few of them: “Apples, cider, cheese and fudge — the four food groups.” “It was a windy night for a bowl of chili.” “It’s better to drop bad habits than a laptop.” “Next time I’ll bring my guitar.” “It was a funny day in the sacristy.” “J.M.J. is the monogram I have chosen for my life.”

You might wonder why I save these; they seem like nothing. Except that they are absolutely not nothing when writer’s block visits. It’s then that I go to the shelf in the garage, pull out the worn shirt-box-turned-treasure-chest, and start digging around. The scraps of paper are like Burpee seeds in the spring; something is bound to take root.

I keep running into the “four food groups” one, and it cracks me up every time, yet I’ve never written about it. I’ve given a try or two to the J.M.J. — Jesus, Mary and Joseph — is the monogram I have chosen for my life. It’s been just a couple emails, but no serious attempt for that one, either.

But there is one scrap that frightens me a bit.

Each time I see it, my eyes fill with tears. Once, someone was here when I was digging through the box, and she asked me to read aloud what the scraps said. When I got to it, I choked up as usual. She asked me, why does that make you cry? “I don’t know.”  She persisted: What does it mean? More distantly this time, “I don’t know.”

And so I just keep putting it back in the box.

Well, today, I found it again. It said the same thing as it has for years: “God calls me ’Lyssa.” It feels so ridiculous to be wiping tears again. So, let’s finally get at it.

’Lyssa is a name that only my family uses for me. Have I heard God call me it? No. Have I felt him say it? Not exactly. But, the other day at confession, I experienced the consolation of being super aware of having been forgiven. The priest said that I am as new as I was at baptism, and his words had that ungraspable feeling to it, until I saw the scrap of paper again.

It all ties in with this Sunday’s Gospel reading, the Prodigal Son. Only, I am the prodigal daughter, and each time I return, God runs to me and calls me ’Lyssa. It’s a name only my family uses, and he’s my Father. And now I know, when he calls me ’Lyssa, I am home, very mercifully home.

Bormes, a member of Holy Family in St. Louis Park, is the author of the book “The Catechism of Hockey.”

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Category: Everyday Mercies