What do cookies and vaccines have in common? For us at St. Anthony’s, they were both unexpected blessings.

This story starts way back in February when a former employee, Cyndi, came for a private retreat. She happened to pick a quiet weekend and was the only guest in the house. The quiet and solitude gave her a lot of time to wander the halls and reminisce.

On Monday, staff was back at work. Cyndi joined us for lunch and shared some of her stories and memories from when she worked here “a few” years ago. She confessed to being tempted to go into the kitchen over the weekend and start baking, which was her job when she worked here. Kim did not miss the opportunity and invited Cyndi to make herself at home. By Monday evening, there were fresh baked chocolate cookies in the kitchen. Tuesday afternoon, “Angel” cookies (a type of sugar cookie) appeared in the kitchen as well. Wednesday morning, before leaving for home, Cyndi made chocolate frosting and spread some on the chocolate cookies that remained. For us, the cookies were a series of unexpected blessings.

Also way back in February, we started to hear stories of guests who had received their COVID vaccinations. Then some of our volunteers started reporting that they, too, had qualified and been vaccinated. But our staff and residents were not yet eligible to get their vaccinations, so we continued to patiently wait, not knowing when our opportunity would come. Then quite unexpectedly, over the course of the first two weeks of March, three people learned they were eligible for various reasons. Each of them registered and quickly received the first dose of the COVID vaccine. This coming Monday, a couple more folks will become eligible much sooner that we initially thought. In both cases, these were blessings that materialized much quicker than any of us expected. Hopefully, these sooner-than-expected blessings will soon lead to another sooner-than-expected blessing: the ability to resume more normal operations.

Last weekend, Cyndi returned and this time brought along her daughter, Sam. They spent many hours on Saturday and Sunday baking cookies that were put in the freezer so we can serve them to guests over the coming weeks and months. Our unexpected blessings in February also resulted in an unexpected blessing for Cyndi and Sam as they had a weekend together to get away, to talk and to do something they both enjoy – bake. And our guests in the coming weeks and months will also get to enjoy unexpected blessings in the form of a variety of tasty, homemade cookies.

Perhaps that is the best unexpected blessing of them all – that one person’s blessing can multiply and spread unexpected blessings to others.

For all the unexpected and sooner-than-expected blessings in our lives, and the ways that they multiply and spread unexpected blessings to others, we say Deo Gratias!