There are some things about us, some things that define who we are, how we feel and how we act, that are inbuilt into our DNA. DNA that is long woven into the history, the fabric and the complexity of who we are as an individual and who we are as a community.
Some of these things we do not even know are there. Until that one moment when they surface and catch us by surprise.
Late last year, my family waited in hesitant anticipation. We were waiting to find out the date of my son’s Holy Communion the next year. We were anxious, as this was a date set by the school and a date we had no control over. What if it clashed with another celebration? What if it clashed with trips already booked overseas?
On the last day of school, the last newsletter was released. There in a tiny side column was the announcement: Holy Communion – May 28, 2016. I stared at the date. Relief that it did not clash with birthdays or trips overseas. But that sinking feeling that it did clash with one very important event, the Feast of the Sacred Heart.
And this is where one of those things that lies deeply hidden in our DNA came to the surface and took me completely by surprise. I rang my sister with excitement and without a second thought said “we get to have a photo with the statue!”
While I have lived here in Australia, completely intoxicated by the blessing and opportunity it is to be Australian, I have always looked at photos from friends and family in Malta of their special occasions, all dressed up in church, standing in front of their beloved statue.
I have always looked back on my own baptism photos from Malta, my family beaming with pride as they held me in front of the statue at church. It was always something I could never replicate with my children here, not even as my heart desperately wanted to.
Yet, all it took was one announcement to trigger a leap in DNA. A leap of happiness. One of my most favourite photos from last year from the feast is of my boys and my Dad all smiling and excited in front of the statue. Fast forward and we will have the chance to take that photo again. On a day where the celebration has so much more meaning, my son’s First Holy Communion.
We have the chance to not only celebrate the feast, not only celebrate his Holy Communion, but celebrate the dynamic culture that makes both of these celebrations integral to who we are, integral to my family and integral to the Maltese community.
The Feast of the Sacred Heart can be seen as one weekend of the year where we get together, dance, eat, enjoy and celebrate. But the Sacred Heart lives with me every day. In my highest of moments and my lowest of ones. I cannot begin to tell you how humble I feel knowing I have the chance to take that photo this year. A photo that will hold pride of place in our home. A photo that will always be a symbol of what we believe in and is important to us.
Part of me wonders if it was meant to be like this all along, if the Sacred Heart and its divine grace chose the date for my son’s Holy Communion? Either way I am grateful for that DNA, grateful for the blessing that is the Sacred Heart.
Maybe for those who still live in Malta, taking the photo in front of the statue is something they do not even think twice about. But it is the things we cannot have, the things we have given up, that in those quiet moments catch us by surprise and can mean the most to us.