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home : opinion : perspectives

4/12/2017 9:00:00 AM
Comin' through!

In 1980, my friend invited me to shop for her wedding dress at the "Running of the Brides" one-day sale at Filene's Basement in Manhattan. Once a year, hundreds of brides-to-be rummage through drastically-reduced designer wedding gowns in search of the perfect dress.

It was pure pandemonium. Continuously, a merchandise stockman wheeled in jam-packed garment racks through the crowds of anxious shoppers. He confidently called out, "Comin' through!" Each time, the sea of women parted and he advanced at a steady pace to drop off additional gowns.

I should have been absorbed in the beauty of the fabrics and rock-bottom bargains. Instead, I marveled at the stockman's ability to maintain composure amid complete chaos. I hoped that, eventually, I'd acquire that skill.

To this day, whenever I maintain calm amidst a storm, I think of that stockman. I want to find him and say, "Excuse me, sir, you don't remember me, but 37 years ago in Filene's Basement...."

When I initially met my husband's large, extended Italian family, his mother, grandmother and aunts promptly occupied the kitchen and tied ironed aprons around their waists. Having gone to the beauty parlor prior to the gathering, not a hair on their heads moved as they chopped, chatted and prepared platters of delicious homemade food for a houseful of guests.

I was mesmerized -- partly because my mom did not wear aprons, but mostly because these women were beautifully coiffed while operating in their element. Their poise amid the noise was golden.

Periodically, a man named Will reconfigures our computers. Years ago, he entered our office looking terrible. I couldn't resist asking, "Are you OK, Will?"

He said, "My daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. It feels like lightning struck."

I privately committed to pray for Will's daughter every night. Months went by and Will came to address a software issue. As he was leaving, he mentioned that his daughter was in remission and able to leave the hospital.

Seasons passed. Every night, I prayed for Will's daughter, not knowing how she was faring. I had a peaceful, almost joyful sense that she was well, and I looked forward to our next computer glitch to hear the good news.

Eventually, the need to call Will arose. He answered with a cheerful voice and arranged our appointment. Just before hanging up, I asked, "How's your daughter?"

He answered, "She passed away four months ago."

Failing to maintain composure, I whispered, "I am so very sorry."

Will arrived the next day. As he sat at my desk, I wondered how he was able to function in light of losing his child. Completely humbled, I asked, "How are you doing all this?"

Wearily, he replied, "You have to ask yourself: Is God faithful? Yes. We know He is faithful. So, in some way, this is better."

During the Easter season, we hear the terms "saved" and "salvation." These words tripped me up until I discovered their Hebrew and Greek translations: to "free, defend, help, preserve, restore, rescue, deliver, protect and heal."

Life is hard for everybody, but some folks have decided to hold on to their defender, helper, restorer and deliverer while they advance through the chaos of life at a steady pace, calling out, "Comin' through!"

Eventually, I hope to acquire this skill, because this is what Easter is all about.

(Bernadette Bonanno attends St. Mary's parish in Albany. Reach her at berni@nycap.rr.com.)

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