Lawrence of Rome, became a saint, according to one legend, as a result of his family being entrusted to safe guard Church treasures, including the sacred holy chalice of the Last Supper. Lawrence protected the Holy Grail and other treasures until corrupt authorities commanded that the sacred riches be turned over to the them. Lawrence defied the illicit mandate by secretly giving the Grail to his cousin in Spain for safekeeping.
Rather than give the other valuables he was guarding to the disreputable Roman prefect, Lawrence gave it all to the poor. Lawrence defended his defiance stating that the true riches of the Church were the weak, the poor, and the sick. Lawrence believed that the Church was ultimately responsible for protecting the welfare of its human treasures. Lawrence’s conviction that the strong should protect the weak gave him due cause for tears. The Roman officials caught on to his rebellion and became enraged. They literally fried Lawrence’s arse and roasted his head on a spit. His last words, shouted with great passion were, “I’m done on this side! Turn me over and eat!” Lawrence’s head never melted down or lost its form. This miracle proved that he was, in deed and in death, a saint. Not surprisingly, Lawrence is the patron saint of tanners.
The gridiron that roasted St. Lawrence is on display in a Roman chapel. The martyr’s charred skull is venerated by the faithful on his Holy Day, August 10th, which is of course when the Comet Swift Turtle shoots forth the Perseids Meteor Shower. Or, as it is known in many parts of the world, the heavens are ablaze with the Tears of St. Lawrence.
Standing on the shore the other night, I searched inky skies for signs of tears from a man who died to preserve a wine glass and protect the poor. I don’t believe that outer space is showered with tears of grief or fear. Rather, it seems that St. Lawrence laughs so hard that once a year his tears splash across the Milky Way.
The joke is on us – we too can laugh until tears flow -somewhere the Holy Grail is safe. St. Lawrence did his job well. Whether in faith or for real, the Grail is protected from harm, safe within Swift Turtle’s shells. It lies somewhere between pieces of legends and lands where stars and people fit into a puzzle of life experiences. So, fire up the grill, light a bonfire, lie down on Swift Turtle’s back, sail through a comet’s tail and witness the tears of a saint streaking across the heavens.
Skeptics may simply conclude that the magic of summer nights is just that – creative imagination. That should not keep us from appreciating the lessons of legends about the power that one turtle, one spirit, and one person can have in shaping our ways of knowing the world. Stella Luce.