• May 23, 2017

Gala 2017: The Starry Night

by John H.

There are moments of lucidity that only become pos­sible when we allow our­selves into the lives of others, to the extent that we also expe­ri­ence their emo­tions. We are given eyes to see and ears to hear what we could never have rec­og­nized alone. Such was the evening of the annual Heart’s Home Gala, held in Brooklyn, on the lower level of the Church of the Virgin Mary: a space not far from the hidden, mys­te­rious pres­ence of Christ him­self. This was my first time at the Gala; and my pres­ence, together with my wife Flor, was made pos­sible also by the woman who watched our chil­dren, Sophia, who her­self had been washed clean in the waters of bap­tism only a few days before.

After entering with Flor, I encoun­tered for the first time a cer­tain Sean, who had brought with him a “little sketch” he had made for the auc­tion that night. We approached the bar and pro­cured for our­selves a glass of wine. The topic of con­ver­sa­tion inevitably touched upon the topic of which all par­ents speak – their chil­dren. We dis­cov­ered that we each have an eight-year-old living under our roof; and also that we had each, at one point in the middle of the night, upon being awak­ened and in a moment of exhaus­tion, expe­ri­enced the sudden real­iza­tion that we were caring with our humble hands for the child of the Holy Virgin.

I wan­dered over to the silent auc­tion table, and imme­di­ately came upon the “little sketch” by the man whose acquain­tance I had made only a few min­utes before. Vibrant, friendly colors wel­comed others into their spaces. What was this, and who was this man, the artist? These pro­found ques­tions I con­tem­plated at the cheese table, over­flowing as it was with culi­nary delights.

And who were these vol­un­teers serving us? Some I knew well, others I had never seen before; each bringing as an offering, above all, him­self or her­self: as a guest, or serving us guests, or behind the scenes in the kitchen. When Sister Katie spoke of “making magic happen,” she was addressing the guests, and under the influ­ence of the occa­sion, we dug deeper into our pockets and gave more than we might have intended. But everyone gave more, and per­haps least of all the guests; and everyone was moved. Upon leaving, walking towards our car with hearts full of glad­ness, I could not help but think of van Gogh’s painting of the vil­lage and church in a valley beneath the glory of the moon and stars.

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