What is to is, is to is…
This third part of Ana’s story tells how she was lost and then found again. Her first two blogs can be found HERE
Ana’s first memory in her faith journey started at six years old. “I had a gold bracelet, it was so pretty, I loved it! I woke up one morning and the bracelet was missing so I prayed to St Anthony to help me find it.”
Ana was at the time a parishioner of St Anthony’s, Point Fortin, but more importantly she grew up in a family for which St Anthony was everything.
“Even if you can’t find a fork, my dad would say pray to St Anthony.”
Ana shared that she searched high and low for this bracelet, and she was worried because “My mother would be very upset because she told me to take it off.” Then she remembered, “I prayed to St Anthony all night and when I woke up the next morning, I went outside and went down the stairs and went straight under the steps and found it right there and I kept telling everyone that St Anthony told me to come here to find it!”
Just like her bracelet was lost then found, so too was Ana, and sure enough God and St Anthony directed her to where she could find herself again.
“I was a real staunch Catholic.” Her mother, though Hindu eventually converted to Catholicism and her parents ensured that their children were not just in church every Sunday but also active members of the congregation in St Anthony’s.
“I got involved in the choir and the folk Mass and little by little, I began getting more involved in the Church.” She was a teenager now. “We had amazing priests, but it was when I encountered Fr Makhan that my life changed.”
Fr Makhan was young, fresh, and Indian, and she was in awe of him. “He took us on our first retreat. All I know is that we had the most fun time at the time. I did not think it had any impact but now I realise that is when I started to love the Church and my religion.”
Ana grew up fully connected to her faith and to the people in her parish. She remembers that when she missed church, her manager would ask her why she didn’t go to church.
She keeps reminiscing on her love for church especially during the triduum and that she loved the people in her parish who helped to build her faith.
“When I left Point Fortin at 18, my spirituality broke.” She talked about those moments when she strayed “because I believed that I was experiencing a better and new life.”
Ana admits that between 1973 to 1993 although she still occasionally attended church, it was mainly because she wanted her sons to experience First Communion and Confirmation.
She stopped going for communion so sitting in church and watching everyone else receive the body and blood of Christ often made her heart ache. But she admits, “I believe that God gives you freedom and space and when the time is right, He gives you the desire and the people.”
When Ana looks back now, she says, “I believe that it was the prayers of my aunts, my mother and other parishioners that brought me back.” She stops and gazes in the distance and says “Yuh know how much time ‘Uncle Cutty’ begged me to join the charismatic movement?”
A sweet smile curves her mouth, “Sr Paul was always there, so was Uncle Cutty and Aunty Daphne” who were all her mother’s closest friends. She laughs and says, “The whole parish rejoiced when I returned. I remember a lady called Lucille Ali who would call me every day to pray for me.”
“I saw an ad in the papers that said, ‘Bring a flower for Our Lady’”. It was an event at the Living Water Community. “I mixed up the date so when I arrived, it was at the time of their prayer meeting, and everyone was singing and dancing.”
It was such a marvellous experience that she went back the next week when the most amazing thing happened. “A woman brought a prophecy that said, ‘close your umbrella and allow yourself to get wet’.” Ana had no idea what that meant, but she knew that it was a message for her.
“The next day I got a letter from the bank that said that I had to go to talk about my early retirement.” This scared and saddened her but then, the day before the meeting, the manager told her that it was a mistake and her name should not have been on the list, but she should still come to the meeting. Yet for some reason, she kept repeating the words: “close your umbrella and allow yourself to get wet”.
The words of the prophecy were still echoing in her head on her way to the meeting when the strangest thing happened. She said, “When I reached Caroni Bird Sanctuary, girl, I saw Jesus bodily lying down on my dashboard saying to me, ‘I would help you’. So, I knew that I had to do this. I called my friend Seraphine and said, ‘I am going to close my umbrella and allow myself to get wet’.” Her friend burst out in a hearty laugh, “I knew that I had to say yes.”
By the time Ana arrived for the meeting her mind was already made up. “When I went upstairs, he said, ‘look at the figure’ and tried to talk me out of it” but she just asked for the paper to sign.
When she eventually received her payment she said, “I went to Zion, Eternal Light, Living Water, and every Catholic place I knew of and gave a donation. She started to go to Mass more regularly, attend retreats and then she just saw her prayer life growing.
Ana says her message to other women reading her story is “Jesus is a gentleman. He won’t force Himself upon you, so trust Him because once you open the door, you can’t get Him out.” She also believes that she is where she is supposed to be right now in her life. As the saying goes, “What is to is, is to is.”