Not that Padre Pio ever held a chainsaw, or could with those stigmata of his, or was ever swarmed by yellowjackets. That would be me, yesterday, cutting up a gargantuan red oak that had smashed down on Holy Souls Mountain road the other stormy day, still green, meaning wet, meaning incredibly heavy. The last piece I cut measured about 28″ across. Four trips with the pickup truck.
Yellowjackets were swarming all over the shattered bits of this tree, trying to lick up the sap on the edges. They were everywhere, under the rim of my hat, next to my ears and neck, landing on my hands. But they had little interest in me. I was storming heaven, mind you, that I not be taken out of this life then and there by the little flying beasts.
With chainsaw blazing, exhaust clouding, wood chips flying, sweat falling, branches creaking and breaking, chunks of log splitting off from the main tree and splashing into the water of the ditch beneath – not to mention the yellowjackets swarming – with all of that I couldn’t help but calmly think of a long phone conversation I had the other week with Father Gordon MacRae about Padre Pio. For something about that, read this.
Padre Pio, as Father said, repeating the words of the inquisitors sent from the Holy See, was a “most extraordinary soul.” The interrogators were quite antagonistic toward him before meeting with him. But they all independently and unbenounced to the others, came away in awe of Jesus in his soul, and manifested even in his body.
I had no heavenly visitation, no vision. Nothing like that. Just the tiniest smidgeon of a sense – with all that lumberjack mayhem going on – of the humble reverence in all humble thanksgiving that Padre Pio constantly lived before Mary’s Son, Jesus, seeing Jesus, as it were, in His love for us, giving Himself for us, still bearing those wounds now, manifesting the union of charity He provides for souls, union with the Most Holy Trinity. Such love for us itsybitsy creatures. We are just so very much nothing, but our Lord Jesus is just so very good and just so very kind.
I was encouraged not to be afraid of such love. Perfect love casts out fear, does it not? Yes, it does. But I am far from perfect love, often distracted, in fact, by the crashing of trees and the swarming of yellowjackets. But I was encouraged, it seemed, so very personally, by this Father called Pio.
Oh, and, just to say — HAH! — I didn’t use Jenny the Jeep to get the wood, as it is still too wet after that last storm (about 8 ½” of rain in about ten hours) to have her venture down the mountain path. If she started sliding, the sudden stop would be quite catastrophic. Had I been able to take Jenny down the way, I think she would have laughed, seeing which particular tree was to be cut to pieces. It was right there at that spot, I am given to understand, that the local kids, with their jeeps, would spin about just there in the ditch, where there was always water and plenty, plenty of mud. It’s great to cover one’s jeep with mud, mind you.
Anyway, one idiotic evening, as the story goes, one of the kids, who had a winch on the front of his jeep, threw the hook and cable over the branch of a great red oak, and then set the winch in motion, hauling his jeep right up the tree on a dare. When it left the ground, he found out that he had no way to right it again as he tried to set it down, causing much laughter all around. It seems that this is the very oak tree I cut up. I’m guessing that it was Jenny the Jeep who had the humiliating experience. This is, perhaps, how the seats got to be in such a terribly broken up state. At least Jenny will have the joy of bringing the wood up the last leg of Holy Souls Mountain. She has the last laugh. Hah!
I think I should mention in my next confession all the distraction with which I let myself be distracted. One doesn’t have to be distracted just because one is plagued with distractions. Laughter, of course, is not a distraction.