Published July 19, 2007
I went to St. Anna’s Parish in Monroe last year to preach at the Masses and ask for financial help for the monastery. I have gone to several parishes over the last year or so and enjoy meeting people. Many memories come back to me of my years in parish life. When I gaze at the people as we celebrate the Eucharist, I think about the meaning of that word in its original meaning—“thanksgiving”—and wish I could tell the people in front of me how blessed I have been all my life through knowing them as a priest. But the time is short when I am at the pulpit. So I can write something here and am grateful for that opportunity.
At St. Anna’s, a special and warm flood of memories came back. I chatted with people after each Mass and found them to be as warm and as receptive as one could wish for. It was Trinity Sunday, the feast of the community of love and friendship that is God – three persons who are one. It is a mystery and is one that I have read a lot about over the years. In many ways it is beyond my grasp to understand. How can three be one?
I was standing in the back of the church and two young girls came in.
They are twins and were dressed in identical clothing. They were identical. My heart leaped—I am a twin and do not write or talk about that much. My twin’s name was Jimmy, and he died in 1966. I think about him every day and dream about him almost every night. He was a part of me, and when he comes to me in my dreams, he is as young as he was when I lost him. He talks to me, and in one dream he wanted to see the monastery and I took him on a tour—he held my hand all the way.
The twins I met at St. Anna’s are Sarah and Clara. I asked if I could take their picture, and they smiled and told me that they would like that. So I clicked away, and as I did so I thought of Jimmy and the young lives of Sarah and Clara. They are too young to know the losses that being human carry. They are well loved and cared for—I chatted with their parents and thought as I spoke with them how blessed are Sarah and Clara. Their older brothers—Paul and Jacob—served the Mass, and I kidded them about having to deal with such superstar younger sisters.
I took their pictures, and afterward one of the twins wrapped her arms around my waist and looked up at me and told me that she loved me.
I told her dad that I am a twin and shared with him the death of my brother. I did not say anything about that to Sarah and Clara.
Now I think about Sarah and Clara, and they are as a window through which I see all children. But twins are a special window for me.
I hope that they know love, when that comes as a gift. And I hope that they have each other for many years and will be able to share their knowledge of life, of love, of raising children, of loss and hope and faith—of all things that will come their way because they are human and share in God’s life.
I hope that they will always remember and take to heart how much they are loved by their mom and dad and brothers. Love will carry them for the rest of their lives.
And I know that they will dream of each other for as long as they live.
I look at life as God’s dream—but as a dream that came true, a dream we can touch and feel and love. Life is God’s dream come true.
And so I take pictures of it. And I have pictures of Sarah and Clara and gaze at them and think of Jimmy, who will come soon in a dream. I cannot touch my dreams—perhaps dreams are not made for holding.
But a beautiful young twin held me close and said that she loved me.
And now I wonder if God has sent us all of this—all of life—as a way of saying that he loves us. And we wonder what God is, where he is, what he is like.
Sarah or Clara hugged me and spoke three words—“I love you.”
God dreamed a bit then—and I felt his touch and took a picture.
Father James Stephen Behrens, OCSO, is a monk at the Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit in Conyers. His books are available at the monastery Web store at www.trappist.net. His new book, “Portraits of Grace: Images and Words from the Monastery of the Holy Spirit,” will be released in September.