In September 2012 I went abroad for the first time in 18 years. It was an amazing grace imbued experience. I went to Rome on my first ever pilgrimage ~ and I am unsure that it will ever be topped.
In the months before I went away, I was received into Full Communion with Rome. In fact it was Pentecost ~ May 26th 2012 ~ St Phillip Neri’s feast day (whose birthday is on St Mary Magdalene’s feast day ~ 22nd July) ~ he is the Patron Saint of Joy, and my adopted Saintly spiritual father. Joy is inherently a BIG quality of my nature, despite the dramatic and wickedly unkind trials that life continually throws at me ~ Joy will ever be here ~ as it is part of my character, my personality, and indeed my very being ~ Joy and Love was the gift that God bestowed upon me at birth ~ and even when oppressed, wounded or broken open by life, joy eventually seeps out, as if to seal all the fissures.
Being very excited about my 2012 holiday (and very unexcited about my summer wardrobe) I went out and treated myself to a few new cheap summer clothes a la mags style ~ pretty summer sleeveless maxi dresses ~ short sleeve summer blouses ~ and a couple of strappy feminine pretty evening tops.
Then 2 weeks before I left for the pilgrimage disaster struck . . . . .
I had heated up some olive oil in a large classic orange Le Creuset cooking pan on the Aga, and I allowed it to get too hot. Then for some reason unbeknown to me, I held the chopping board over the back of the pan and tipped it towards me. I used the blade of the knife to pull the raw chicken into the pan towards me, straight into the hot oil. At this point the hot oil decided to splash straight out of the pan, directly onto my bare forearm. In millisecond reaction I grabbed the tea towel hanging on the front of the Aga and wiped the oil right away ~ at which point the melted skin just wiped right off my arm. It was agony ~ I didn’t cry and yet the tears just poured from my eyes. Instant cold water and bicarbonate of soda (chemical reaction salvation) on this occasion was unsuccessful. I went to casualty who cleaned and dressed my wounds with fake skin, and then gave me fake skin (special burns patches) to take away on pilgrimage with me. It was grim.
This of course meant that my entire summer pilgrimage wardrobe was now marred ~ the wounds were below all summer sleeve levels, and I sported a great square patch of fake wrinkly skin that proceeded to cover my entire forearm . It is difficult to tell in the above photo, but the wounds now healed have shrunk to scars the size of an almond, a 5 pence piece, and the top of your little pinky finger. The initial wounds were as deep as a coin too.
With all my experience of cooking to date (and there’s lots) I have no idea why on this particular occasion I pulled the raw meat off the chopping board towards me. But I did, ~ and as a result I am now scarred for life ~ just above the inside of my elbow.
But this isn’t just any old almond eye ~ dot ~ star ~ scar. This is my own personal branding of the Trinity ~ Father ~ Son ~ & Holy Spirit ~ of scars. All different ~ but all scars. ~ Consubstantial.
I thought of this the other day when I climbed out of the shower. Identifiably all mine alone ~ Forever marked ~ Forever reminded ~ Forever branded with the Trinity.
And despite the scar ~ every time it catches my attention, it takes me right back to an incredibly, spiritually fulfilling time in my life ~ a pilgrimage of altars and absolute pure Love.
Branded with Grace.
Then yesterday comes along St Patrick’s day. I have never previously celebrated St Patrick’s day, but this year for some reason I paid special attention, and I was surprised to find out that he wasn’t an Irish man as I had previously thought. I always thought it was a celebration for Irish people alone, and that St Patrick was Irish ~ but with a little research from my beautiful Gold SAINTS ~ A Year In Faith And Art book, I learned otherwise. Patrick is of Latin origin ~ meaning nobleman. The day celebrates Christianity coming to Ireland. He was born in Britain in 385 and died in 493. Patrick supposedly lived to over 100, and he is Ireland’s Patron Saint. As a child he was carried off by Irish raiders and then held captive as a slave. After escaping he trained for the priesthood, and became a missionary priest and later still a Bishop. He returned to Ireland where he preached Christianity in the places where they practised slavery.
When I took my dearest friend on our weekly hospital run we chatted about the great Saint, and she told me that St Patrick was famous for teaching the theology of the Trinity by using the shamrock ~ one single leaf made up of 3 green love heart leaves, all on a single stem.
In the evening I went for Guinness and canapés with another lovely dear friend, whose long ago now deceased husband was called Patrick. We celebrated together St Patrick ~ and liberation from oppression ~ me for the first ever time on St Patrick’s day.
I’m celebrating too my Love ~ in Trinity ~ Infinity.
St Patrick ~ Pray for us †