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St. Dominic and the Peach Orchard

Today is the feast day of the famous Spanish Monk, Dominic de Guzman, who turned out to have a latent talent as a fabulous preacher who changed the face of Christianity in Europe (along with pal, Francis, an Italian beggar monk from Assisi) with his teaching skills. He gathered a few like-minded friends and founded the Order of Preachers, now fondly known by the name of their founder, the Dominicans.

Enough of the backstory.

We have the unfathomable privilege of hosting a community of cloistered Dominican Nuns in our Diocese, who are, I truly believe, part of the reason this area continues to prosper in spite of the depression in which much of the country finds itself.

We were on our way to take them roses on their special patronal feast day today and decided to divert slightly and follow the winding road into the hills where a family peach orchard stands with open gates to welcome August fruit-seekers.

Another aside – it’s a great orchard. We were recently at another where the three inch wasps, rotting fruit, and four-foot-high weeds were a great deterant to our peach cravings. In fact, the kids were hesitant to get out of the car today as a result. That changed quickly when they saw the rouge orbs hanging in plenteous, fuzzy perfection from healthy trees lining well-groomed avenues.

We picked a peck of perfect peaches for the Order of Preachers.

But the Little Guy, almost three, picked up something else. Maybe some poison ivy? Maybe an insect? Whatever it was, he was having a bona fide allergic reaction three minutes down the road.

Magenta ears, rosy cheeks, and welts accompanied by violent rubbing of the eyes with hands which were, no doubt, still covered with the allergen. Unhappy baby.

The vista from the mountaintop monastery was hazy when we piled out of the car and organized who was going to carry what. Sister was glad to receive the fruit and roses. We made a visit to the Master of the house to pray the Angelus, but had to make a quick egress when the Little Man’s wails, momentarily interrupted by the sight of the white robed, coiffed woman, began again in earnest.

Sister, in case you clean the guest bathroom tonight, we are responsible for using all the paper towels. Soap and water over every visible part was the only solution I could think of to lessen his itchy agony until we could get home to some Benedryl.

It didn’t help.

After an Olympic-sized greco-roman wrestling match, we got him into his carseat and headed down the mountain.

“Jeepers, St. Dominic! It’s your day!” I reminded him silently. “We’re at your house! Please pray for our Little Guy!”

I navigated the winding road, one eye on the rearview mirror. The nine-year-old big brother rubbed some hand-sanitizer on Little One’s ear to divert his attention from the Awful Itch.

He quieted right down.

Two miles later, he was fast asleep, and the remaining half hour drived passed in peace (thanks to the audio book of “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader), with the exception of my occasional anxious glance in the rearview mirror to ensure he hadn’t actually gone into anaphylactic shock and died.

When we got home, he woke up symptomless. Ears, eyes, skin – all clear, and I was happy not to have to put any pink meds down his throat.

But more, I am in awe of the way a thirteenth-century monk whose enthusiastic preaching of the Gospel changed history has the humility to pray for a twenty-first century three-year-old in response to a suburban housewife worried about her son’s allergic reaction in a peach orchard.

And God’s great goodness to answer.

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