The beauty of owning your own website is that you can write about whatever you want without the fear of having some entity taking it down because they disagree with your opinion.
Now don’t let me scare you off with that opener. Admittedly and consciously, I purposefully try to stay away from topics that don’t involve construction, infrastructure & civil engineering. I’ve chartered this site for us “Dirt Lovers” and not to be my personal pulpit. Although, if you’ve stumbled into it, you’ll find some of my musing in the Rants section. I make it a point to not put my true blog-type opinion pieces up on the headline pages. But yes, they are tucked away for those of you who like to read about my thoughts that don’t involve barricades or CPM bar charts…
So, admittedly, I’m taking a slight left turn tonight to share a little bit of my “outside the lines” stuff.
My wife Beth & I had the chance to listen to an “old friend” speak tonight. He made us laugh. He made us cry. And he did so much to shore-up my faith tonight that I’d be remiss if I didn’t share it with you.
If you are from Chicago and grew up listening to radio in the 80’s & 90’s, then you certainly know the names Steve Dahl, Garry Meier, Johnathan Brandmeier & Kevin Matthews. These guys defined Chicago radio in that era. I certainly don’t need to remind you of their popularity. They were staples in so many of our lives. We all grew up with them, listening to them, laughing with them, talking about them. Such a great time to be a Chicagoan.
Then along came satellite radio. The Internet. Apple music. It seemed like radio came to a screeching halt. And with that speed bump, their voices went in other directions.
Of those guys, Kevin Matthews was always my favorite. And when we lost his voice on the radio in 2005-ish, I remember how bad my friends & I felt. I wish I’d had the sense back in the day to keep the cassette recordings of bits of his shows, just to be able to re-listen to all of the fun that he and his crew brought to so many of us on a daily basis. It’s unfortunate that we have to miss things in life to truly be able to appreciate how good they were when we had them.
So why am I writing about Kevin Matthews? Well, his is a wonderful story….
Kevin spoke tonight at our parish, St. Mary Immaculate, in Plainfield, Illinois. Years ago, Kevin wrote a book titled “Broken Mary,” which is part biography, part stand-up comedy, part healing miracle and all about his faith journey. It tells the story of how Kevin came to find a discarded statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary and how the statue changed not only his life, but the lives of countless others who have encountered it.
I’m not going to spoil Kevin’s story or the book: It is a wonderful read that certainly has a Catholic bent to it, but regardless of your faith denomination, has a message for all of us.
I don’t talk about my faith on my website, but if you know me, you know I am a practicing Catholic and very proud of my faith. I am not an evangelist, I’m not really good at talking about my faith in public, but my faith it is a very important part of my life. I probably should talk about it more. But I don’t. And that’s just me.
So last Friday, I was reading our parish’s weekly email newsletter like I usually do. And as I’m scrolling through the headlines, I see an article that is titled “An Evening with Kevin Matthews and Broken Mary.” I said WHAAATT????!!! Kevin was coming to St. Mary’s??!! I asked Beth, would she want to go – Of course she would!
So I got us signed-up buying 2 e-tickets. No way – We were going to get to see Kevin!! And he was bringing the Broken Mary statue with him??!! Heaven, keep me on my feet!!
We got to church a bit before the doors opened, so we ended up getting seated in the very front rows of the church. Kevin was already there, being helped by our parish’s technology guy, getting his slides setup. I must say: I had that little “gush” hit me when we saw him. Beth & I and our friends had gone to a couple of Kevin’s public events back in the ’90’s in his “rock star” days, and here he was, 25 feet from us in the front of our church’s altar. Kind of surreal….
Kevin spent an hour speaking to the group of about 200. He talked about radio. He talked about his health challenges. He talked about his faith. Everything was ad-libbed: No notes. Kevin spoke from his heart.
I won’t be able to capture the swells of emotions I was feeling as he told us stories. Stories of his faith. Of his health challenges. Of his life. But when he shifted gears and told the story of the statue of Mary, how it came into his life and what a powerful figure it became to him and so many who have come to know it, words cannot describe the groundswell of emotions I was feeling listening to him.
Kevin talked about the power of the rosary. Kevin had some very special rosaries with him. I couldn’t believe that I forgot to bring mine with me. Kevin told stories of how the rosary has worked in his life. I couldn’t wait to get home and hold mine…..
Simply put: The statue has brought healing to people. It has brought people back to the faith. It has strengthen the faith of thousands.
I felt it strengthening my faith minute-by-minute. It’s hard to put it into words – It just did.
After Kevin was done speaking, we had a chance to see & touch Broken Mary. As I did, I simply asked Her to watch over our family.
It was a powerful evening for me. Sometimes, we hear the voice of heaven from the strangest places, at the strangest times, for unknown reasons. I believe that God works that way for us. And I know that Beth & I were meant to be in the church tonight. Seeing the ad in the bulletin. Getting tickets. Getting to listen to Kevin speak. We were put in the church for a reason tonight…
On the way out of church, Kevin was sitting at a table signing books and talking with folks. We bought an extra copy of the book. Kevin signed both copies of our book, we told him we were long-time fans and thanked him for spending time with us. I wish we could have talked to him longer than we did, but the line behind us was long…
As Beth & I sat down in the truck, we both said we’d both laughed and cried a lot. I said to Beth that there was a reason we were there tonight. Reading the bulletin. Tickets were still available. We got in. We got to sit in the front. We got to listen together. Each of us had our faith rekindled.
I won’t be preachy here, but sometimes things come into our lives for reasons that we simply cannot fathom or explain. Faith is a hard concept for the modern mind to sometimes digest, but when you have it, it is a superpower.
My rosary has since become a constant companion. It is with me every morning. My morning prayer time is sacred to me. We are being bombarded about the power of meditation: For me, my prayer time is my meditation. I don’t need to sit in a lotus position and focus on my diaphragm counting breaths, scripture is all I need.
This post, this message is a simple reminder for me and anyone who encounters it: Continue to have faith. Continue to pray. Take time out of every day to spend some time in the stillness. Create a space for it. In this day and age of constant distraction, it’s easy to lose focus on what we are supposed to be doing to make sure we are leading a worth life, but we all have the power to put things into the Right Hands.