Friday, May 17, 2013

The Gift

I am on a lunch break right now and feel compelled to share what today has revealed in terms of how God shows Himself in the smallest ways, yet how those revelations have a tremendous impact on me.  First, what I am on a lunch break from?  Well I am cleaning and doing laundry like a fool today.  A day that I planned on running 24 miles turned into a day of "rest" (though cleaning my house is no restful feat) when I just felt my legs and body were too fatigued to pull it off.   So on to plan B... run tomorrow and Sunday and rest today.

I'll start with a little background... This week has been psychologically draining.  I mean, there is nothing specific or earth shattering going on but sometimes life has a way of weighing on me even when my load is fairly light.  Make sense?   It could be something going on with one of my kids or John and I are at or wits end with the end of the year stuff or the "to do" list of life is piling up.  Who knows?  It could be any or all of those things and they just collectively put me in a mood.  This was one of those weeks.  I am just in a funk.

Enter adoration.  If you don't know what adoration is, it is a time when the Blessed Sacrament (AKA JESUS!!) is exposed on the alter of either the adoration chapel or the church.  At St. John, eucharistic adoration takes place once a month.  Parishioners are encouraged to sign up for an hour, covering the 24 hour period of exposition.  I have heard the announcement for years, yet I never had signed up... until last month.  My parents go every Friday night.  John occasionally goes during his lunch hour.  I mean, I know tons of people who go and sit in the physical presence of Jesus.  I just never did.  Oh if only I'd have known the peace, the grace, the POWER of devoting an hour to God, I'd have gone long ago.

Yesterday I was to go to adoration from 2pm - 3pm.  I figured this would be a good way to calm myself, get deeply prayerful and prepare for the next several days as a single mom while John and Will toured DC for Will's eighth grade trip.  I could pray for the safety of the class and the parents on the trip.  But as my friend, Aleisa, likes to say... the devil had other plans.  I got a call shortly after noon from the dreaded school nurse (or I should say dreaded phone call... the nurse isn't dreaded).  Lucy had fallen on the playground and hit her head.  She thought she needed to be seen and perhaps would need a stitch or two in the gash.  Oh you CANNOT be serious??  I mean, last week I got a call that Lucy had thrown up her lunch.  When I went to pick her up, a spry looking Lucy and another classmate were in the nurses office looking as healthy as could be.  When I questioned Lucy, her answer kept changing and it was clear I had just been swindled and had brought home a perfectly healthy kindergartener.  So I was skeptical as to the severity of this "gash".  As it turns out, Lucy did not need stitches per my assessment (and John's, whom I texted a picture), but it definitely warranted her coming home as she had a skinned up elbow, hip and this little trickle of blood from her head that lingered a bit longer than I would have liked.  So now what?  Do I bail on my two o'clock appointment with Jesus?

As I pondered over that question, I saw on FB a notice from Aleisa's mother that Nora was having some trouble and prayers were greatly needed.  That sealed it.  Ironically, Nora had a 2 pm appointment with the pediatrician... precisely when I was scheduled to go to adoration.  I could not skip now.  I needed to go pray for that baby.   So I took Lucy.  Let me just say it wasn't the best of prayer days or the most focused.  But I was there.  Lucy was really great for someone so young being asked to sit quietly in church for an hour.  She tried to grasp the concept of Jesus's physical presence, but it is hard (it's hard for adults too!).  But childlike innocence and trust probably made it easier than I am giving credit for.

In between stroking the somewhat bloody hair of this squirmy six year old, I prayed for Nora.  I prayed for my children and I prayed for a few others front and center in my mind.  I prayed for my ability to accept and carry out God's will for me and I prayed for myself to feel better... emotionally.  My mind wandered, drifted and lost focus often.  But I felt peace and no sense of needing to be anywhere but there.  As the time to leave drew near, I look intently at the Blessed Sacrament, "I'm sorry this wasn't the greatest of days and my mind is all over the place.  Next time I'll be better."  But I swear... all I seemed to really feel or absorb from the alter was "Thank you for coming and spending time with me.  And thank you for bringing her."

I left there feeling very calm and happy.  Lucy and I drove home, whipped up a quick batch of rice krispie treats and waited for Emma and Jack to get home.   The evening grind without John home was busy, but I felt good.

Today I faced a messy house.  I felt compelled first to clean Will's room.  It was a DISASTER!!  I am not sure why, but I want him to come home to a clean room, his laundry put away and his sheets tucked tight into his bed like he prefers.   Even though I asked him to clean his room before he left (which he DID NOT), for some reason, I wanted to do it for him.  I cleaned it up, vacuumed and put his laundry away.  I then organized his desk and dusted everything.  I moved on to Jack's room and then the girls' room, which should totally be featured on "Hoarders" ... I am not done with it yet.  As I was working on the girls' room, I found a number of pictures that Lucy had drawn which declared her love for Emma...."Emma and Lucy... best sisters forever", "I love you, Emma", "Emma is so pretty".  As I read each one, I realized the enormous love that my girls have for each other.  I thought about the ways that Emma takes care of her when she is scared at night or gets in trouble.  I was flooded with the realization that no matter how much piles on me in life, my family... husband, children and extended family is the greatest gift I have ever been given.  My kids did not "deserve" for me to clean their rooms.  But I wanted to because I love them and I want to surprise them and make them happy.  If they don't say "thank you, mom" or even acknowledge I did it, that is ok by me.  Doing it has brought so much joy.

Giving gifts without conditions is how God operates.  It is how some people I love operate... my father and my husband come to mind immediately.  These two men give from the heart and never ask for a thank you.  They do it because giving makes them genuinely happy.  They do not care if anything they do gets acknowledged.  I came home from the Brad Paisley concert last weekend (which was a gift... from John) to a clean house, clean kids' rooms and laundry put away.  John knew it would make me happy and wanted to do it even though I left him with a mess in my hurried state to get to that concert.  John's explanation..."I did not want you cleaning on Mother's Day (the next day)."  I swear, I want to be more like him.  And he has rubbed off on me as evidenced in my reasons for cleaning my kids' rooms today (yes, in the course of a week, they can trash a room like nobody's business).

In the process of giving this gift of my time to my children today, I received the gift of Lucy's love notes to Emma... which made me think about my husband, my children, my life as it is.  Wonderful.
The funk has lifted and I attribute this as the answer to my prayers as I also gave Jesus the gift of my time yesterday.

... and now I'm off to finish...


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