All Saint’s Day and Halloween were on a collision course this year here in Carmel. I don’t ever recall a government entity before changing the date of a holiday because of rain. I remember loathing the whole “when I was a kid, we used to walk 3 miles uphill both ways…” line of chatter that seemed to emanate from some members of my extended family. They always seemed to think that we “young people” were “soft”.
I have to say, I am old enough to finally understand where they were coming from. My thought process a couple weeks ago was that Halloween belongs in October and the kids need to “man up!”
Therefore, it will be of zero surprise that I decided we would NOT postpone Halloween and we just marched forward with our annual party. The house was filled with the laughter of 21 kids and many of their parents. Captain America, Jake from State Farm, a “Cereal” Killer, Cliff Paul, a Taco, a Tennessee Volunteer, an Artist, a Mouse, a Cowboy and several other children ages 9-16 took to the streets in the rain in search of giggles and some chocolate!
Returning to the house soaking wet and with precious little “loot”, their spirits were high nevertheless. We dug through drawers and passed out dry t-shirts from my sons’ closets and the kids ate chicken and noodles and downed the candy that I had purchased for neighborhood trick-or-treaters who stayed home this year. Some played X-box, some sat around the table and laughed, some played foosball………and they all laughed at each other’s rain soaked Halloween hair.
All I could think was about how blessed we all are to be surrounded by the smiles of happy, healthy children—and that of all the Halloweens, it’s this uber- wet 2013 that they’ll all surely remember.
“See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called children of God. Yet so we are.” (1Jn 3:1)
The next morning at All Saint’s Day mass, I heard this bit of scripture in the second reading. It struck a chord. Actually, it kind of stung me.
SEE WHAT LOVE!
God is so good to me. I would have to bet He is getting a little bugged by my lack of a grateful heart in return. He pours on blessing after blessing, and I shrug them off, take them for granted and grumble back at Him like my son does when I ask him to take out the trash.
He gave me amazing parents, 3 healthy thoughtful boys, a cute, funny husband, a wonderful city to live in, a parish full of compassionate people, terrific schools for the education of my children, 2 gorgeous Goddaughters, a fav sis, sunsets…mad air hockey skills….and on and on.
So, why is it that I so often fail to gracefully carry the small crosses of everyday life?
The rude neighbor, the pounding headache, the coach who doesn’t seem to appreciate the “awesomeness” of my child, the little boy who prefers not to bathe—I am not gracious interiorly on these matters. Even my most patient moment is far from what I would deem “Mary-like”.
“Everybody’s got a little larceny operating in them, surely you know that?” –Bing Crosby
Sidebar: If you know the movie this quote comes from, then you are eligible for an automatic upgrade to first class in my book. Bing’s made a good point though, hasn’t he?
Allow me to digress and provide a just one specific example representative of the greater series of failures that has been on my heart lately.
Several days ago, my youngest came home after practice a bit overwhelmed. He was tired and hungry and his teacher was clearly out of control. It seems he announced there would be a big test THE NEXT DAY! Ugh! My sad, freckled faced boy was frustrated and exhausted.
“How long have you had this 4 page study guide, hon?”
“Today, Mom. We just found out today.”
“Are you sure? You didn’t have any more notice? 1 day?”
Well, I was irked. You see, my little man is not quite there yet when it comes to independent study. This 8pm development also occurred just moments before the Colts were going to take over my large family room TV. I was already in my jams, ready to watch Andrew Luck get it done on Monday Night Football. NOW, I was in the study helping my third grader understand wavelength and amplitude.
THEN, it hit me.
I texted my friend whose son is in Zach’s class.
“How long has Anth had the science study guide?”
The quick reply was “He brought it home Friday, why?”
AHA!!!! The irritable feeling I was having towards my son’s science teacher was irrevocably transferred to the little criminal I am raising.
Suffice it to say I had an ugly temper tantrum and followed it up with an inappropriately loud homily about honesty.
Sadly, this one might be my holiest child. He’s the one who asks me to read to him about the saints, and who says things like “Jesus likes it when we come to mass.” I couldn’t seem to recall that while I was missing the Colts game to try and pass 3rd grade science….AGAIN.
But Bing was right. There’s a little larceny operating in all of us. This poor kid clearly inherited an extra dose of it from his maternal side of the family.
Still, a grateful, grace-filled mother would certainly have handled this situation with more patient affection than I did. I believe it may even be possible to sincerely and lovingly teach the lesson on honesty to the little criminal (ha?), or endure the headache without grumbling, speak well of the coach who cut your kid from the team, or smile at the difficult neighbor who dislikes your every move– for the love of Christ who loves us tenderly– even though we might be filled with piles of imperfections and a healthy dose of larceny ourselves.
I am screwing it up. God just loves me up. I give him back attitude. Real mature huh? I am not proud of myself.
So I went to confession this week. I told my confessor that I have a crappy attitude. I told him how blessed my life is and how I just interiorly feel bugged and exhausted every time God asks me to bear a little tiny cross. I might outwardly even be sunny, but inside I have an ungrateful heart. He smiled and he let me exhale—at considerable length. The guy is going to heaven. Then, he absolved me. He reminded me how I profess to enjoy St. Therese—whose life literally is a book on this exact subject of bearing our little crosses in love. He told me to get over myself, carry my crosses, and go to the chapel and say a prayer of gratitude.
Geez I love that sacrament. I went to that chapel and I did my penance. There, I read this:
“Brothers and sisters: we, though many, are one Body in Christ and individually parts of one another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them; if prophecy, in proportion to the faith; if ministry, in ministering; if one is a teacher, in teaching; if one exhorts, in exhortation; if one contributes, in generosity; if one is over others; with diligence; if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold onto what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor. Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord, Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, and persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality. Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12: 6-15)
Okay, God. I hear your marching orders. Thanks for giving me a do-over…..AGAIN.