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Monday, November 4, 2013

The first call

By Nancy Shuman

Painting by Boris Kustodiev, public domain.

I fell in love for the first time when I was six years old.  Coming from an "unchurched but Catholic-on-the-books" family, I did not learn of Jesus until I entered first grade.  I'm forever grateful to my parents for sending me to Catholic school, for there I learned of this wonderful Person Who truly loved me.  I could not help but love Him in return, and in fact I was so taken with Him that as soon as I could more or less spell, I scribbled His Name all over my schoolbooks (I had a teenaged sister who wrote names of boyfriends on her books, so I knew how that was done).

Jesus lived in a golden box way up in the front of Church.  I didn't understand how they fit Him in there, but that didn't really matter to me.  Sister said that's where He was and - even better than that!  In spring, when school was almost out for the year, I'd be receiving my First Communion and somehow Jesus would come to my heart in a special way.  Oh my.  I didn't know how such a thing could be, but at times I was breathless thinking about it.

Sometimes I would sneak into the empty Church during recess.   I'd slip away from the other kids and run along the alley between my school and Church, and I'd tug open the gigantic wooden door and tiptoe into quiet.  It was perfect.  Just me, all by myself; and way up front, there He was.  Sometimes a lady or two might be in there, kneeling in a pew with a prayerbook, a felt or straw hat covering her head.  I would hide lest I be discovered.  If there weren't any grownups, I sometimes got brave enough to go as far as to a back pew.  I don't remember praying, exactly.  I just looked at the gold box in the distance, and breathed in whiffs of beeswax candles and lingering incense, and listened to muted sounds of traffic from the streets around.

Finish reading at Nancy's blog The Cloistered Heart.


  1. Nancy, I can imagine Jesus' arms around you as you wrote this..."remembering" with you, that precious little girl who brought Him such comfort. Thanks for memories of Catholic school days...some of my own favorite memories. LOVE the picture of Jesus looking through the lattices! Only you could have found that one! Precious and touching post! xo

    1. Thank you, Patricia. Actually, someone else found that amazing picture of Jesus behind the lattice and sent it to me... it made her think of "the cloistered heart" (!). And I was struck that this post got put on here today (I hadn't known in advance), as I have just been pondering those earliest days quite a lot. God works in wondrous ways!


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