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O Live Her!

Hello friends. I hope you are warm and safe. If you are experiencing challenging weather, you are not alone. Since Fat Tuesday, I have been fat with snow, and the white sky releases more snowflakes this morning. It looks like a real-life snowglobe. A peaceful sight. A gentle quiet. An offering of stillness. A continued reminder to rush slowly.

Here we are at Lent after a year of life being turned upside down. Or right side up, depending on how we look at it. Personally, it feels like the last year has been an ongoing Lent. It hasn't been easy, but simplifying life has had its positive takeaways. Yet, haven't we been asked to strip ourselves away of so many things already? Now, we're supposed to practice Lent on top of it? This might be a good thing. Life goes on. Speaking for myself, it will continue to be a daily practice.

If you were with me last year for my "40 Days With My Mother" Lenten reflections, welcome back. You might remember I sent something out each day while experiencing the first Lent after my mother had died. My writings are always a combination of reflective long and short pieces, poetry, and random thoughts to ponder. Each day is different, and every time I sit down to write, the Spirit inspires in mysterious ways that I cannot explain. I envision this will be the same for this year's reflections, but the frequency will differ. Amen, for your sake and mine!

This time I am moved to write four reflections a week that focus on these words: peace, faith, hope, and love. Simple words we hear all the time that can be hard to recognize in a fast-paced world yet often exist in the lowliest and loveliest of places. "Faith-filled Fridays" will be dedicated to faith, "Marvelous Mondays" to hope, "Wholly Wednesdays" to love, and "Food for Thought Thursdays" to peace. Where did "40 Days With Our Lady of the Sofa" come from? Well. It's been the central piece, a companion of sorts, in the space that has become my home sanctuary, my home church, the past year. The sofa was my mother's. Here is the story behind it.

My mom was attached to this long kidney-shaped sofa. Its original fabric was perfect for an Italian woman who married in 1959. Olive green, mustard yellow, and blush purple were not just colors for condiments, fruits, and vegetables in the '60s and ''70s. These memorable shades added an unforgettable ambiance to bathrooms, appliances, and furniture. Dressed like a velvety Italian green olive with a slippery shine, my mom loved this sofa. She never wanted to part with it, even when it became difficult for an elder or someone with a physical ailment to push themselves up from its low-laying stance. When she didn't have enough room for it in the house she moved into after moving from my childhood home, my mom wasn't bothered one bit that it crowded her living area. It was her house, her belongings, and her nest to live in. Regardless of what anyone else thought of it, the sofa was staying.

There were several times I slept on it when there weren't enough mattresses for bodies when my family visited. My mom napped on it and was adamant about sitting on it as often as she could, even when she needed help to stand from it. It was the first sofa she and my dad purchased for their home and the setting for a few family pictures when I was growing up. We opened family Christmas presents around this sofa. She entertained conversations from this sofa during many afternoon teas she hosted. I can imagine the number of times it kept my mom comfortable through her sadness after my dad died. With the hope her family would visit, this couch kept her company until we did. Then the loneliness I know my mom felt after we left. It sank right into this sofa's cushion.

I began to notice something as my mom's mobility declined, and she sat in it less and less. The couch bothered others more than my mom, and people would offer their free opinions when their opinions weren't summoned. I would watch and listen. It became comical to me when I would see one of my family members or a friend or neighbor of hers speaking of this infamous sofa. They would try to talk her into getting rid of it and donating it to a charity center. Each time there was a conversation about it, my mom wouldn't bend. The sofa wasn't going anywhere but where it was. Even when she couldn't sit in it anymore, it stayed at her side. I supported my mom because I knew she was attached to it for reasons no one could understand but her. I would think about all the reasons this piece of furniture was essential to her, see its sturdy bones and potential stories, and wonder why the fuss. It became a conversation piece, and I saw the opportunity for it to be peace for conversation.

Eyeing the beauty in this velveteen sofa, I decided to save it even if it found a home in my backyard since no one wanted it. An overpriced replica of it can be found in many of today's furniture retailers. When I brought it home, I showed a picture of it to my co-workers at the time, and many loved it and confirmed I made the right decision to save it. But I did restore it to give it new life and energy. I decided olive green looks best on edible olives. So I picked out a brighter fabric not related to food and purchased longer sofa legs to give it a new height. I placed it in a room that has transformed into a peaceful space for my family, especially during the pandemic. It is a soothing seat in what has become a home sanctuary. It is a go-to place for reading, writing, naps, and relaxation. It rests next to my Dia de los Muertos ofrenda, which changes into a meditative altar through the rest of the year. This sofa invites quiet contemplation with a higher power than any loud voice here on earth. The fabric welcomes me with a soft embrace every time I sit on it, just like it did my mother. The stories lived and shared upon its cushion are remembered and continue.

Our Lady of the Sofa offers me a peaceful pew and a home. Having been in a church building only three short times this past year, I virtually partake in mass and search for the communion of community in a new way from this seat. I am so glad to have her and share her with you. My mom would be delighted too. In fact, she is probably saying, there's my favorite olive. O Live Her!




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