Avila Socrates, eldest daughter of Franciscan University philosophy professor Thomas A. Socrates and newest intent to “Bilhah or Zilpah” household, stood dead still in the middle of the J.C. Williams Center.
No thoughts entered her mind. Her head throbbed, maybe from slamming it into the steel cross when she intented to B.O.Z. that morning or maybe from the “Shrek 2” music pounding in her ears.
She must have been standing there for at least seven minutes before a cornhole bag slammed against the side of her head and she fell unconscious to the ground. Didn’t the J.C. use to be a safe place?
When she came to, an apologetic member of “Stoners of Stephen” household was peering down into her face.
“She’s waking up!” he almost sobbed. “I didn’t kill her!”
Avila’s head now felt impossible to lift up, but she smiled. My reader may wonder why. After all, she should be indignant! But no, she was pleased beyond measure. For into her concussed face peered the dazzling blue eyes of the coordinator of “Stoners of Stephen” household, Paul.
Paul was beautiful. He had long, curly hair which he grew out at “Galilee Missions” this summer. He skateboarded, swing-danced and juggled! He even played Cajon and other strange instruments at Tuesday night praise! What’s more, he possessed the virtues of docility and childlike joy and was most often found in the Port.
Avila had been wanting to meet him since he transferred in the fall, shortly after his grand conversion from a non-denominational church to the Catholic faith.
You may be wondering why Avila didn’t go up to him and introduce herself long ago.
My dear, DEAR, reader…don’t you see? Avila is professor Socrates’ daughter. Avila wears a veil that she hand made with her grandmother. Avila loves the Latin Mass. But… Avila is also in love with Paul.
It hit her one day at 12:05 Mass when she noticed that he was lifting his hands in praise during the offertory. Why did she have these feelings for this charismatic?! Distressed, she opened her Bible for a sign from God and turned to the Psalm 63:5.
“I will bless you as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands, calling on your name.”
That was last week. Now she was staring up into his startlingly intentional eyes, eyes which reminded her of the color of the sea of Galilee as she imagined it during her Ignatian meditations. A few friends hoisted her up off the floor and she stood there speechless.
“What’s your name?” Paul asked, anxious to see how bad the concussion was.
Avila took this as a cordial introduction.
“Avila,” said Avila dreamily, “and you’re Paul.”
“Yes! Well, Avila, I’m so sorry. My aim needs some work. Do you mind if I pray with you for healing?”
This was too much for Avila. She politely excused herself and left the J.C. Now they had really met, and what’s more, he felt he owed her a debt. The J.C. is a wild place these days: a wilderness of unknown danger.
Avila staggered back to Marian. There was nothing for it. She pulled out the St. Thérèse Novena from the back of her rose embroidered prayer journal and began to pray.