The Marian Chapel attached to St. Mary's Episcopal Church was dark, it was always kept dark. The chapel was a small square room, instead of rows of pews, chairs with kneelers provided a place for the faithful to sit during the rare times the room was used. The chapel was only used for Morning Prayer and evening prayer. And on certain feast-days chief among those was 'All Saints Day' a set aside by the church to honor the dead and pray for those souls trapped between Heaven and Hell.
Toward the far end of the chapel, one would find a low alter. In the center of the alter one would find the tabernacle, that is a small wooden, fixed locked box where the served sacrament is kept, church lore often states that Master Jesus himself lives within the tabernacle, because that were the elements of bread and wine, the two key elements of the Eucharist are kept safe and sound. As they have been blessed by a priest.
All of this weighed on my mind as I sat there, peering toward the altar. To the side, a small altar had been set up. An icon to the Blessed Mother hung above the Alter and a dozen or so candles burned brightly. Besides the candles, plastic rosaries and prayer cards sat. Offering to the Blessed Mother.
A chill passed over me, outside through the stain glass windows, snow was starting to fly around. The shy had been gray and cloudy all day, with the local weatherwomen forecasting snow, freezing rain, and even thunderstorms. God blessed the South with some of the strangest weather known to man. Sometimes, I don't even think the big man himself knows what weather to throw at us.
Joking aside, I knew it was getting late and with the wind whipping around outside, swirling small flakes of snow, I knew my time was running out. So, standing up I walked toward the small altar, reached into my skirt pocket and pulled out my pink coin purse. I pulled back the zipper and dipped my hands into the confines and pulled out eight quarters. I feed the quarters into the slot of a copper box that had the words 'Donations' engraved in the center.
"As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs," I muttered under my breath. Say what you will about Johann Tetzel, but the man could write a catchy jingle. Is still being repeated three or so hundred years after his death.
Pushing that thought out of my head, I reached down and took the striker, pressing down the trigger, a small ball of yellow and orange flame appeared. Moving the nuzzle of the lighter down, I pressed the small ball of flame to the wick of one of the candles. Soon it was lit and then once it was lit, I returned it to its resting place on the altar. My own little prayer to join the dozen or so others.
"Holy Mother, mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, blessed ever-virgin. Hear my prayer." I started to pray. I closed my eyes and focused all my intentions on the ghostly vision of my mother. I took a deep breath and pressed on. "Mother Mary, I ask you to shine your light upon your daughter, Lisa Rebecca Brewer. Show her, your love and tender mercy. Incline her heart to look upon your son. Enlighten her mind, break her chains and bring her into the joy of everlasting life. In the name of the Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. One, holy, catholic and apostolic church. Now and until the ending of time. Amen."
I finished my prayer and looked up. Then I heard the door of the chapel open and there in the doorway stood my mother. She stood there for a minute before she entered the room. Her baby blue eyes were fixed upon me and a big smile graced her lips. Her arms were held wide open.
"My baby girl." She whispered. "How I've missed you this past year." She said strolling toward me. There was this glow about her. Where she appeared dark and gray in the graveyard. Here she appeared in full living color. "Madeline... I've watched you grow this past year. I've seen your struggles and felt your anger, and more than once, I've wished I could have been there to hold you and give you strength."
I just there, rooted in the grounded like a tree, or should I say I stood there rooted.
"Mom?" I asked, feeling my eyes start to mist. There a basic, almost primitive feeling, almost basic, human almost to feel loved. And right now, as I was nearing the one year mark of my journey, wanted, no needed to feel like I was loved and accepted for who I am by the one who gave me birth. Even if the one who gave me birth was beyond the moral pale. I kept my eyes fixed firmly on the spirit that had just appeared in front of me.
"Yes, darling?" She said smiling.
"I love you." That all I could get out. "Stay safe, up there or where ever you go."
She laughed and smiled at a very Angelic smile.
"I will, and I'll be watching over you. Your offering really touched me, it really touched my heart. And it broke my chains. Chains that had held me in bondage for this past year. I can no move on to the next stage. I'll be waiting for you too, on the other side. Just beyond the river, a little past the gates. In a little coffee shop in the shopping district." She said with a wink.
I giggled and then I noticed she started to fade away.
"Mom, what is Heaven like? Before you go please tell me…" I said as I reached over and tried to touch her, she was fading away more and more by the second, her from slipping through my hands. Yet her smile still remained.
"I don't know baby girl. I'm sure it's wonderful though.. See you later, take care now love." And with that, she vanished into the darkness. And I have left alone, to ponder and think.
And this dear reader ends the first season of 'The Adventures of Madeline'. Madeline will return this Summer in 'Pie a Petite'. Until then, I, the author, Madeline, Kayla and all the rest would like to thank each and every one of you. You have shown so much kindness, love and support to us all. I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart.