Eu Bénite

We had some special guests during this year’s Moxie Recipe Contest.  A Tee Vee meteorologist, Charlie Lopresti, visited Chummy’s and did a live weather segment.  The contestants, the tasting panel, and the audience were enthralled and although I was running around like a good hostess should, I could hear the delighted applause from the other side of the restaurant when the segment concluded.

Charlie Lopresti must have done some weather voodoo that night.  Maybe he said some silent devotions or maybe he had a six-pack of potions he sprinkled about Lisbon Falls as he left in the news van, because the next two days of weather were spectacular.  It was pleasantly warm, clear, and dry.  There was a full Moxie super moon on Saturday night, too.

Ah…the mysteries of meteorology.

Even Charlie’s chants and incantations could not prevent a mixed weather bag from hitting New England after Moxie.  I could feel it rolling in over Five Islands on Monday night as I sat at a picnic table with my Moxie house guests, eating fried clams and lobster rolls.  It was a heavy mix of joint-swelling humidity and hair-frizzling dampness.

The rain started with the sunrise on Tuesday.

At 4:00 p.m., my friend and blog commenter SK texted “there are tornado warnings here!  The weather channel is telling us to go into the basement.”

Charlie, help us!

By 5:00 p.m. there were rumbles of thunder and flickers of lightning in the darkening sky.

When I was growing up, before Charlie Lopresti and Moxie, these same types of summer storms would arrive in the middle of July.  Sometimes they would come while my father was working at the Pejepscot Paper Mill.  I don’t remember if my brother and I were frightened by it; possibly.  Our mother would get a bottle of holy water and sprinkle a little bit in each room to protect our house.

Seigneur, prends pitié.

Holy WaterThen the rain would come down.  A steady drumbeat would roll all night and sometimes the electricity would be lost.  I worried about my father at the mill.  If they lost power at Pejepscot, it would shut things down…the big paper-making machines that couldn’t stop and start on a dime.  My father might not come home at the scheduled time and he’d have to stay at the mill until the big machines were rolling again.  He would be tired when he got home.

I thought about that holy water last night as the electricity flickered.  I thought about sacred rituals and where they belong in our lives.  In my early adulthood, I mocked the rituals I knew as a child.  Then, grasping for something in the darkness, I professed a ritual-free faith, castigating anything that wasn’t pure and unfettered from symbols as an “empty ritual.”

But I’m not so sure anymore.

When I was a child, my mother’s pure act of faith in sprinkling holy water made me feel safe.  If the thunder and lightning had arrived during a visit to my French Canadian grandmother’s, a similar bottle of holy water would have come out there, too.  I don’t remember if Nana and O’Pa had a holy bottle, but I remember seeing them cross themselves during storms.  Little acts of safety.

I wonder if my mother still has a bottle of holy water at our house on Woodland Avenue?  Maybe the holy water couldn’t save us, but it “safed” us when we were young and afraid and there might be something beneficial to that.

I told you last week that we’d get back to these existential questions after Moxie.

Nous rendons grâce à Dieu.

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One Response to Eu Bénite

  1. jbomb62 says:

    I forgot about the ritual sprinkling of holy water during lightning and thunderstorms. Bernie hated lightning, and I don’t know if it was because he knew that it also meant thunder, from the days when he could still hear. Whenever there would be lightning, he’d get up in the dark and start bumping around. Poor Bernie!

    Glad you made it down to Five Islands. That’s a great place to visit, and bring guests from out of town.

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