Issue Date: December 9, 2005
By ED HORVAT
My wife and I live in a town with a massage therapy school. We ended a busy week by scheduling couples massage with two students who are biological brothers, Joey and Bobby. They will graduate soon, so we avail ourselves of their talents while we can more easily afford their services. These guys are blessed and gifted healers.
An hour later, speechless and reduced to puddles of flesh and bone, my wife and I try to muster movement. Eventually we float out through the doors of the school, contemplating dinner. We consider our options and decide on the Café of India, hoping the soft sitar music, atmosphere and fragrant foods will prolong our trance.
Following a leisurely meal and conversation over three refills of masala tea, Sushil, one of the owners, joins us and asks about the origins of Santa Claus. We relay stories and legends about St. Nicholas. Inquisitive ourselves, we had asked our host at the café about Hindu traditions, so it was fun to reciprocate.
Once home, the icon of St. Nick on my bedside table greeted me. It was a gift from Fr. Kevin, given to those of us who attended St. Nicks feast day service on Dec. 6. The description on the back reveals that Nick is, among other things, the patron saint of merchants. I returned to the café and presented the icon to Sushil, passing the gift forward. An image of Ganesha, the Hindu deity invoked at new beginnings, is present in the café and has truly blessed the business. We shared beliefs about the spiritual patronage and protection of Ganesha and Nicholas.
Joey and Bobby. Kevin and Sushil. Lord Ganesha and St. Nicholas. There are many ways to touch and be touched, to heal, connect, pass along, and bring peace to one another. We all have work to do, renewing life, letting the spirit flow through and among us, deepening relationships, building community. Christ is born!
Ed Horvat, a secular Franciscan, is chaplain at a community hospital in Morgantown, W.Va.
National Catholic Reporter, December 9, 2005
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