Mined from the notebooks, Monday afternoon, July 16, 2018. Posted Tuesday morning, July 17.
Altar and sanctuary of Mary Help of Christians Chapel, Marian Shrine and Don Bosco Retreat Center, Stony Point, New York. Photo by Lance Mannion’s inner altar boy. July 16, 2018.
Very near to the hospital is the Marian Shrine and Don Bosco Retreat Center. I pass it every day on my way to see Mrs M and every night on my way home. I’d been meaning to stop in. Mainly out of curiosity but I have to admit I’d been feeling pulled by my inner altar boy’s vestigial faith. This afternoon, I gave into both and turned off to take a quick look around. It was too hot to walk around Our Lady’s Park, a sculpture garden at the center of the grounds where the devout are encouraged to say the rosary, stopping for each decade before statues depicting the mysteries and watched over by a titanic statue of Mary, forty-eight feet tall. I didn’t make it to the shrine itself either. But I did go into the Mary Help of Christians Chapel, first steeling my soul against the temptation to pray.
The noon mass had ended and there were very few people still inside. One of them was an elderly Asian nun in a blue habit and white running shoes making the Stations of the Cross. Another was a friendly little old lady who, I think, going by her accent and her dress and matching turban I’m guessing was from Haiti who shyly approached me to ask me to take her picture “with Mommy.” Of course I knew who she meant, and was glad to oblige. Then, after I’d handed her back her iPhone and she’d approved my photography, I asked her if I could take her picture again, this time with my phone. I told her it was for my wife who was in the hospital but would have liked to meet her. It’s true. Mrs M isn’t feeling all that devout these days but she’s as friendly as ever. So here’s Mrs M’s new friend she’ll probably never meet but, having seen the photo, feels as if she has…