For a short time yesterday, one of the busiest thoroughfares in West County stood stock still.
The regular noontime traffic simply had nowhere to go as the mile-long funeral cortege for Brother Marvin Becker FSC made its way down Manchester Road toward the Christian Brothers cemetery at La Salle in Glencoe.
While on some level I regretted the inconvenience we mourners had injected into the lunch breaks of all those many hundreds of drivers along the way, I felt oddly blessed by the spectacle, too. Somehow, it just felt right to see the work-a-day world pause—ever so briefly—to acknowledge the passing of this holy man.
Once we arrived at La Salle, however, my mood shifted a bit—and my spirit darkened. Reality had begun to settle in: As the pall bearers brought Brother Marvin’s body to its final resting place, I knew I was witnessing the end of an era. I could feel my heart breaking, and I began to wonder if this was something like what the apostles felt as they huddled together in the upper room.
Something had changed: There was no denying it. I was being asked to let go of an important chapter in my own spiritual journey. And I found it incredibly difficult to do so…to loosen my grip…not because I didn’t believe as Brother Marvin believed…but because I was having trouble seeing what comes next.
It’s a foolish question, I know—the antithesis of faith. And as the day wore on yesterday, I realized it’s precisely the collective state of mind, the state of heart, that the Risen Lord waded into when he greeted the apostles behind locked doors on that first Easter evening.
No matter how many miracles we encounter along the way…no matter how often we’ve seen lives transformed…it seems there’s still a part of us that expects the well to run dry.
Which may explain why God puts people like Brother Marvin into our lives. Holy people, who literally have the power to stop noontime traffic on Manchester Road.
There’s tremendous meaning in such moments, when we have the opportunity to observe a sacred pause. As the Franciscan priest Richard Rohr has observed:
The mystery of Christ is revealed, and the Christ ‘comes again,’ whenever you are able to see the spiritual and the material coexisting, in any moment, in any event, and in any person…
I don’t know when it will happen or what it will look like to reach the tipping point, for the Christ Mystery to come to fullness. All I know is that this meaning, planted in the middle of things, was meant to give humanity both direction and immense confidence.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy One.