The Handkerchief


I own an old wooden steamer trunk that came from Prague to America, many decades ago, and utilize it as a coffee table in my living room. It’s quite lovely and as a stoic piece of functional furniture, and exudes the character of many secret stories.
I opened it today and saw, at the dusty bottom, a folded handkerchief, once white, now grey, all tucked away. It took me to a time and a day, in which that simple piece of cotton, became a link from the world of despair, to a bridge of kindness and compassion.
I was a young woman with a broken heart, and keeping the faith of a crumbling
Catholic, I went to the sacrament of Reconciliation, at which seven visiting
priests heard confessions, before the Easter holiday.
I chose a priest with an Irish surname, entered the door, and made the decision for a face to face confession.
There sat an elderly man, flocks of white hair, thick dark glasses, hands
folded, who gently smiled, looking down, as he asked me of my sins. I was
besieged with grief over the ending of a long term relationship, with an opiate addicted man and was unable to speak my sins in an audible tone, little words, between the giant sobs, and tears, my chest heaving, my body shaking with the knowledge, the man I loved, would soon die from this addiction.
The old priest sat quietly, and being hard of hearing, leaned closer to me, and seeing me in my torment, slowly took out the white handkerchief from his black slacks, with purple hands knotted by age and endless prayers. He handed me that hanky with the greatest of care and love, blessed me, absolved me of my sins, and promised me, he would remember me in his daily prayers.
By handing me this piece of cloth, in the most simple and kindest of gestures, I cried until the handkerchief was soaked with every ounce of sorrow in my soul. I washed it, and used it again and again, as my “weeping cloth”, at times several times a day, until the last tear was expelled, over a relationship that had long ago overdosed.
Every time I used my weeping cloth, I thought of the man who had given it to me. Surely, he had heard many stories of heart aches in his life, and yet his compassion and kindness that day, made me feel as though Christ himself was there, to console me.
Many years have passed, and certainly the kind elderly priest has transformed from this Earthly plane, and all is quiet in the world of his name; except for the handkerchief, and the memory, of his comfort, many years ago.
I wish I had a billion hankies, to hand out to every aching soul, to honor this simple act of compassion he bequeathed to me, in my epic grief.
I sit here today, now a middle aged woman, with a broken heart, and hold my weeping cloth, in the greatest of comfort knowing, there truly are kind souls, who carry the healing light of Christ.


A timeless clock
Make haste
The hour
To tell a tale
Of sweet love

All unheard
All unseen
Lies behind
A love
Turned green

A tacit tale
Twisting lattice
Lacing lies
A tarnished

All once grown
Is shown
To grieve
The tone
Of love
As deceived