Anthony: An Early Advent

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November 25, 2022
Christmas and Finding the Right Path
December 15, 2022

By Sister Judith Ann Zielinski, OSF  

I received a special Christmas gift in September. His name was Anthony.

My “summer vacation” this year finally happened on the last three days of summer. It was a bit past beach weather, but I still wanted Lake Michigan.

I drove to South Haven, arriving alone, exhausted, finally finished with details and deadlines. I hoped to encounter God in silence and wonder.

Carrying books and lunch, I surveyed the mostly empty beach, sprinkled with a few (like me!) belated visitors. Summer’s laughing, screaming children had largely vanished. People strolled, eyes down, lost in their soon-to-be autumn thoughts. I smiled: These were my people. This was my place. I found an empty table and dropped my bag, settling in with an iced tea and book. The day lay open before me.

Then Anthony, a sweetly brain-addled middle-aged man arrived.

“Next week is my birthday,” he announced, dropping his backpack and plopping down at my picnic table. “Can I sit here?” he asked.

Without looking up from the page, I answered, “Only if you don’t talk.”

“I need $100,” he declared, “for more action figures. Spider Man, Wolverine, and the Green Hornet. Can you give me $100?”

From behind fortified sunglasses, I uttered a dark No.

Undeterred, he prattled cheerfully on as I turned pages, telling me he was going to do five hours’ work for a neighbor lady to earn $100.

“That’s good money,” he confided.

When a young man wearing headphones passed us, Anthony jumped up to repeat his plea. He collected $5 and the “Happy Birthday” I hadn’t offered.

As Anthony stuffed the money into his pack, someone hailed him from the parking lot. He turned to go.

“I’ll be back,” he said. “Don’t go away.”

But he never returned, so I couldn’t even offer him the cookie I had saved.

I sat there alone, with an uneasy heart and my books, waiting to see if he would return– waiting for Anthony. He never came back. I had missed what I told myself I had come for: An encounter with the Living Christ.

 

Sister Judith Ann Zielinski

Sr. Ann Marie Emon

Sister Judith Ann Zielinski has found a ministry telling stories, in which she communicates how others contribute to the greater good. She serves as the Director of Faith & Values Programming at NewGroup Media, in South Bend, Indiana, a position she has held since 2002.

She is a writer and producer of multiple broadcast and non-broadcast programs, that have taken place nationally as well as internationally.

In 2018, Sr. Judy celebrates her 50th Jubilee as a Sylvania Franciscan.

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Sister Faith Cosky
1 month ago

The images you used made me feel as though I was there watching it all. Yes, missed opportunities stay with me too and with a bit of sadness at times.

Janet Snyder
1 month ago

Isn’t that just the truth. Human interaction is

almost always messy and uncertain and as my iPod is prompting unpredictable.

Sharon
1 month ago

A powerful, challenging story, Judy! It so easy to get caught up in our own little world and miss the bigger picture. Thank you!

Sr. Claudia Bronsing
1 month ago

What a beautiful story/encounter. It woke me up to see those who are in need of a word of encouragement! Thank you for sharing. We all have “Anthony’s” in our lives!

Sister Ann Lorette
1 month ago

Oh Judy! You touched my heart! What a powerful, simple story! It resonates with me so well. Thank you for sharing.

Susan A Cutshall
1 month ago

So profound story of Anthony! Thank you, for the reminder to truly listen and be ready.

mary Thill
1 month ago

I have tears in my eyes. Thanks for the Christ encounter sharing.

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