A Maureen Story!
Fr. Terry Ryan, CSP
April 29, 2018
Maureen was my first vine and I was her first branch. I think she would have preferred to be a vine without branches, but I came along four years after she was born. Her little brother. She told me that when we were out together, I should stay close to her, do what she tells me, or else I will burn. Such is the life of a branch. One day, we were at The Bronx Botanical Gardens, with our parents, and a new baby, Elizabeth. Neither Maureen nor I much cared for this new branch. I was five and my big Sis was nine. There was a pond. I wanted to get close so I could look for fish, but it was quite muddy along the edges. “Watch out,” she said. “There are monsters in that water.” This was a fib or course. The Bronx would not allow monsters in their ponds. Maybe Brooklyn, but not the Bronx. Maureen tended to fib a lot. I don’t think Jesus was in her Holy Communions, what with touching that fibbing tongue. But I digress. Back to the pond.
I got too close. Just as Maureen yelled, “Step back,” I slipped and fell into the mud and slid into the water. I could not yet swim. I was helpless. Suddenly, someone was in the water and pulling me up and out. It was my big Sis, now all muddied and wet just like me. She hugged me. A miracle for sure. Then she pushed me away and shook me, short of a concussion and said, “What did I tell you? Are you ever going to do that again?” I cried through my tears, “No. Will I burn?” “Not yet,” she answered, “But you will get a good spanking. Here comes Mommy and Daddy.” Our parents had been off yonder sitting on a bench, watching us from a distance.
A spanking and then eventually burn is what one calls, “Having a bad day.” As my frantic parents arrived asking what the dickens is going on, and looking at us Irish kids all wet and muddy in public, Maureen spoke up. “It is all my fault. I should have been watching Terry more closely.” My gosh! Maureen was taking the rap to spare me a spanking. Note however, that in Irish families I knew of, girls never get whacked. Only the boys. It is an injustice, I know, but I was born into it. Oh, I digress again. We all went home and got lectures, a bath and clean clothes. Maureen was my vine.
Jesus says he is the vine and we are the branches. Stay close, real close to him and feed off his spiritual DNA. Then maybe we will begin to love as he loved. How might that look? Well, it might look like a girl who gave up of herself, to pull her “to burn later brother” out of the pond, and then took the rap for his bad deeds. If that is not a Christ figure then I don’t know who is. So, who is your vine that gives you a life worth living? Who is your branch to whom you pass on the best of yourself?