Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Archbishop's Cope

My mother used to sit on the edge of my bed at night and ask this question:

“What's my wish for you?”
The answer was a little bit different for each of my siblings, but the gist was the same: to identify the people who loved us. Most of our answers included the following: Mom, Dad, Grandma, all eight siblings, the kitty, various cousins, the Dukes of Hazard big wheels, and even God.

I love that my mother took the time for each of us to rattle off the names of the people who loved us… one kid at a time. Bedtime was special for that reason, or rather it was my time to be special. The results had the effect of a warm cloak that instilled security and well-being, and made for adults who reflect upon people individually.

My wish in life is to be a blessing to the people around me, although, it often backfires in an aux-de-contraire type of way. Maybe that is how love works, the more we give the more we get. 

One of my favorite books — aside from the obvious classics, Calvin & Hobbes and Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow — is Les Misérables. Not because it's popular right now, but because it's deeply reflective on the moral integrity of the soul, and I find great value in those reflections.

I can’t help but think of M. Myriel’s words — AKA: The Bishop — who, after traveling on a mountain road for two days to visit a small parish, found the people too poor to provide him with a basic surplice in which he could perform his pastoral duties. Word soon spread and the next morning a fancy chest appeared in the village. It contained a rich robe, embroidered and delicate — an archbishop's cope — a much grander vestige than the humble priest had ever envisioned. It had been stolen from a cathedral months before and delivered during the night by thieves — the same thieves who had ensured the good bishop's peaceful passage over the mountain. Overcome with gratitude, the beloved priest uttered these words:

Photo credit: © 2006-2013 Pink Sherbet Photography / / CC BY
“To him who is contented with a cure’s surplice, God sends an archbishop’s cope.”

Such heartfelt gratitude! There are a lot of people in my life who qualify as archbishop’s copes. Friends, neighbors, and even strangers with a smile. Blessings seem to abound everywhere when we choose to see them. I think my mother’s wish for me has been granted a thousand times over — or at least four or five, which is just as good. 

Along my journey in life, I hope to answer another mother's wish, the way others have done for mine... archbishop style. Please join me in this great endeavor.

Eliott McKay
Spreading Joy Writing Books

1 comment:

  1. For years, bedtime with my kids included reading a bible story (my son's favorite was "Throw them in the fire"), a chapter from a book, and three random poems from "A Children's Book of Verse" before we prayed together. Thanks for bringing up great memories.


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