On a long train journey, I was seated at a table with three other people: an elderly man, a young mother and her nine-year-old son. I am middle-aged, so we covered four different generations. The little boy was intent on his homework, with some help from his mum; I was reading a book by Thomas Merton (with a picture of him in his monk’s habit on the cover) and using a bookmark with a photograph of a little dog.
After a couple of hours I realised that the gentleman on my right was looking intently at something – maybe my Dominican cross? I smiled and he quickly said: “Excuse me, I was admiring your bookmark – I had a little dog just like that.” This began a long conversation in which the boy and his mother soon joined.
We talked (of course) about dogs; the man showed us a photograph of his own dog and then a whole series of pictures of his little grandson, whom we all admired. Then he asked about my cross, telling us that he helped in his own parish in various ways, and that he had been to Lourdes and to the church of Padre Pio. When I explained about being a Lay Dominican, the mother showed great interest and asked about how we live: in communities? in our families? The small boy, Michael, seemed fascinated too and all three listened intently.
I was touched by the old man’s love for his dog, so I offered him my bookmark as a gift; he was delighted, and gave me a prayer card with the Madonna of Lourdes to thank me. Then I thought it would be nice to give something to Michael, so I said: “It’s your name day soon and I’ll remember you on that day, and I’d like to give you something” – I wasn’t sure how he would react, but I offered him a prayer card with an image of St Dominic. To my delight he was thrilled: “Look, Mum”, he said excitedly, “I’ve never had a picture of St Dominic and his hair is the same colour as mine!” All three of my new friends got off at the next station and we parted with great cordiality, promising to pray for each other.
Author: Katharine, Scotland, Province of England