Make Believe…Real

When they are young and life is a zoo, we cannot wait for our children to grow up. When they are grown and ready to venture out on their own, we wish they were still our babies. There is truth and wisdom in truly enjoying every moment with our children. There is truth and beauty in allowing the good and the bad to be remembered, to be time spent together well. Before we turn around, what seems like just playing dress up turns into the real thing.

This past weekend my oldest daughter had the final fitting of her wedding dress. Wow. She’s just incredibly beautiful. She had her trial run with hair and makeup on Saturday and when I saw her after work, again, wow. On Sunday, as I watched her youngest sister play volleyball and the second oldest coach volleyball, I listened as she and her father were trying to decide upon a song to dance to after the wedding. I’m cheering for each point as tears fill my eyes. I’m happy to be in a large arena sitting alone, my emotions bouncing off the walls. I’m happy to be multi-tasking as I have for years upon years, enjoying each and every moment that I could with my children while juggling work inside and outside our home. It’s funny but I think the harder we had to work to make it to many of our children’s events, to spend time with them, to take care of them when they were sick or to arrange for them to be taken care of, the more all those times mean to us. My children are keenly aware of all of those moments. They seem to take nothing for granted.

Ya see, my mother took them to choose hats and furs and to drink tea that day. And that night, they enjoyed the day all over again by sharing it with us. I guess my point is that time does fly by and we may feel we miss some moments but what’s important is that we make the most of those that God gives for us to be together and that our children know the importance of being there for one another. Seems like yesterday when this bride-to-be and her maid-of-honor were playing dress up together and in a little over two weeks the one will be making sure the other one’s veil and dress are laid out perfectly to walk down the aisle. Ya know, we have to live life no matter how fleeting, no matter how hectic, one event at a time, one moment, one diaper, one game, one dance, one wedding at a time. It may not be all make believe and dress up in fur coats and hats, but it is a gift. A real gift. And I could not be more grateful to God for all of it. The make believe and the real.

Working in the Midst of the Holy

“Hey! Can you help me with candles?” “Sure.” “Ya see I’ve got this little room with my mom’s religious things in it and I’d like to light some candles like she used to do. You may have known her. Margaret Booker?” “Known her? I didn’t know.” “She passed away in 2011. I’m just moving back and trying to get myself together.” “She came in here all the time.” “I know that’s why I’m here.”

The man was looking for all the people who connected him to his mom. I, in my usual busy way, did not even realize it had been that long since she had been in. Was she sick? She never seemed sick. She was rather passive most days, just wanting to get her candles and move along. She always asked for me. She was sweet, asking occasionally how she could get the best deal. I got it. I understood. Or did I? Why the hurry? Why did we never chat like I do with other customers? Why did I not realize she hadn’t been by the store?

She was just one of those souls who wander the earth, flying low under the radar, making a difference to those who may never remember or realize and yet, to many who will never forget. “Ya know, my mom used to go by the Church and get the flowers they were ready to replace and take them home. I would go in and she would have flowers all over the place, taking out the wilted and replacing them with fresh. She took them to the nursing homes for people who did not have visitors. When she ran out of flowers, she just sat and talked.” “What a wonderful woman your mother was!” “She wasn’t even sick. She just died one day.” “I’m so sorry.”

Today after Mass, I had a little sidewalk talk with a long time friend about the meaning of ASK – Ask, Seek, Knock. We agree that God wants us to Ask. He knows what we need. He knows, but He wants us to ASK. He wants us to seek…answers, needs, people, Him, goodness, love and on and on. Look for Him. Look for the good. Look for the needs of others. And, put it into action. Knock on the door, go to Him, let Him open up a whole new world. Be aware of one another. Bang on it if you must but move. Don’t sit around waiting for someone or something to come to you.

I am fortunate to work in the midst of so many holy people who I really barely touch the surface of knowing. I am fortunate to have a God who knows me and loves me anyway. To have a God who despite my busy-ness allows me to witness something so much more. I am fortunate that when I don’t remember to ASK or am too busy to SEEK, that He pursues me and He knocks. And sometimes, YES, He knocks me over… with His love and His goodness and His mercy.

To Mrs. Booker, my holy friend, and to all who work quietly in our midst, who go unnoticed by our busy lives, I am grateful that you were truly His hands and His feet and His heart. I am grateful for all who do the will of God and ask and seek and knock and make a difference. I am grateful for the son who shared and who wants to take the hand-me-down and pass it on. This is how we learn. This is why the holy are working in our midst.

As Usual…It’s Right in Front of My Face

God has a way of giving us all we need if we just trust in Him, pray, listen, believe. For me, when I need an answer to something “going on” whether I realize I need the answer or not, He seems to print things out for me plain and clear. I can take this many ways but to me it’s this simple, I need answers to be written out for me and put right in front of my face.
This morning, I was bemoaning the fact that I had a difficult day at work yesterday, came home to a dinner where all that was left was ham and mac and cheese when the kids ate ham, mac and cheese, broccoli and rolls and I had to clean the pots and pans. I whined and ate a bowl of cereal. Big Baby.
I am reading an awesome, awesome book by Colleen Carroll Campbell, My Sisters The Saints. Did I mention that it is awesome? Anyway, so I am still a little worked up this morning about my bad yesterday and I proceed to read this: The reference is to a “woman’s maternal gift going awry” and “when this happens, the generous, selfless mother (wishful) becomes the controlling matriarch with a martyr complex whom no one can please.” (And there’s much more.)  “Edith (Stein) suggests two remedies for a woman who finds herself falling into this trap. The first…thoroughly objective work…sweeping…researching a term paper. Such work forces a woman to submit to laws outside herself, helps her escape her obsessive focus on herself and her own emotions, and encourages her to develop self-control, an important discipline for the spiritual life.”
Well, well, well. Okay Lord. I hear You loud and clear. Ya see, I’ve been procrastinating working on this new book which needs quite a bit of research work and bam! I’m back to work as of today and back on track and working through my whining and well, my acting the martyr. I can see I have quite a bit of work to do and this book has given me so much to think about as far as the lives of certain Saints that I would like to read more of. 
So, as usual, He spells it out for me and puts it right in front of my face.  God is so good.

Humbling

I just have to share this moment. God is so good. He knows I do much better with the flashing light signs and signals and confirmations. He knows that I am more like Thomas than I would ever care to admit. He knows that every once in a while I need a message that tells me that no matter what type of struggles I may be going through or what others may think or say, I’m doing okay in His book. Keep working hard. Keep praying that what you do or say works for someone. Keep believing in the mission. One person could be changed by one word or one book or one bit of kindness.
A couple of weeks ago, I was on the balcony at the store taking a look to see what kind of books I could take for a workshop. We have had a lot of book tables lately…a good thing…and I am grateful. Before I could exit, this big man came toward me and said, “You’ve worked here quite a few years haven’t you?” He had my undivided attention because I was not getting past him anyway. “Yes sir.” “Do you have a second?” Here it comes…”I just wanted to tell you that I have come in here since the 1980’s and when I first started coming with my friend I was Church of Christ. He convinced me to become Episcopal. We have continued to come into the store a couple of times a year.” “Oh. That is great.” Then…it surprised me…”Well, I am now studying to be Catholic. I am taking RCIA classes and I wanted you to know that this store has been a large part of my journey to the Catholic Faith.” Well, I thanked him for sharing that, truly thanked him and found myself crying as I spoke. I was completely choked up.
You see, my mom has done such an amazing job keeping this Catholic Bookstore up in Nashville against the odds. I say that because when she bought it from the Diocese and enlarged it to the four story building it sits in today, it was really a leap of faith. The percentage of Catholics at that time was I believe 2.5% in Nashville and it may be 7% now. She was very careful to make the store a place for everyone, of all faiths and of no faith. Today there is a flashing sign right in front of me, actually blocking my way, that says that her hard work, her prayer, her belief in the mission, her faith, our God, has made a difference. It was humbling to hear this man speak of his journey, to share his story, to include the store. Completely humbling.