A few saintly souls aside (for whom I have long held great esteem), none of us really wants to “home school” our children. What we’re doing now, in fairness, isn’t really home schooling at all, but it sure feels like it to those of us who are not born with the gifts of wisdom or patience. Our educators at every level are doing their best to deliver meaningful content across subject areas via the internet right now—and with zero time to prepare. By all accounts, the vast majority are doing so creatively and with compassion. After all, the majority of these folks don’t live on an island. Most of them, like the Thieme family, are navigating in a storm of the unforeseen. I’ll be candid. If my sons learn how to make the perfect over easy egg or change a flat tire instead of mastering the bone structure of the human wrist or the finer points of Spanish II this spring while the world implodes, I’ll live with it. We’ll fight on in the fall and play catch up academically. This is the season of the pandemic, and I don’t know a single soul whose mental health and daily life is unaffected.
Because I know this last sentence is absolute truth, I am trying my best to not yield to my baser instincts in dealing with those few teachers who just don’t get it. What I yearned to do this morning with one misguided Catholic school instructor was aim in her direction that famous quote by our Lord when He sharply rebuked Peter with “Get behind me, Satan.”
I didn’t. We’ll call it a moment of grace. I’ll pray it holds.
Instead, I texted my girlfriends for moral support. They were squarely, and not surprisingly, in my corner. We have coronavirus rules, you see. Rule #1 is support your girlfriends without judgement because none of us is truly okay.
I’ve been reading this book called Work and Prayer. I don’t particularly recommend it. However, if you’re the extra curious sort who is interested in all things Catholic, it’s not so scary. It’s an explanation for lay people about the rule of St. Benedict.
St. Benedict is famous for this “rule” and essentially for saying we need to find God where we are, that it’s wiser to get down to being grateful for what we have and are doing, to making the best of it. “Doing otherwise brings jealousy, resentment, and distaste for what is,” he states. He beseeches us to “act like leaven” which is to be, by example, a persuasive influence in transforming those around us for the better. At least, that’s what I’m taking from the book so far. Well, that, and I’ve learned some new vocabulary words like, “compline” for instance.
Benedict spends a lot of time talking about proper humility and the peace it should produce in our hearts. I’d say I’ve got some serious work to do before I have ANY SHOT at this wild idea he has about how all things are to be embraced with a quiet heart. If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that there’s not a single quiet thing about one Shelly Thieme. Did you hear me mention I wanted with all my heart to tell a poor high school teacher this morning to “get behind me, Satan?” I still kinda want that. Sheesh. Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy…
Walking. That’s what is working for me. It might have been only 30 degrees this morning, but I got up and did it for an hour or so all the same. Most the time, I spend these walks in prayer. Prior to our time of isolation, I was often at morning mass at this hour. I miss Jesus and the sacraments so very much. We have had so much trouble with the whole “streaming” thing over here that we couldn’t even watch Easter mass. Our Wifi is sketchy and inconsistent at best. We don’t need Wifi to pray, though.
This foul-mouthed, ill-tempered mother of three large male humans is a surprisingly able prayer warrior. I really am. If you ask me to pray for you, or your intentions, I do it. I truly consider it a great honor. I’m not the most articulate. In fact, my prayers often sound a lot like my words in this blog— or Jim Carrey’s character in Bruce Almighty. I know this because I watched that silly movie on Netflix yesterday. Don’t judge me. I know you’re over there watching Ozark or Tiger King or something. There’s ample whining, some volume, and plenty of run-on sentences in my prayer lexicon. That’s my point. He knows my voice though, because I am DEFINITELY the squeaky wheel. You know what they say about that squeaky wheel getting the oil? I’m counting on it! “Ask and you shall receive”. My hope is wrapped up in that thought. There’s a growing list of names on my phone, as my only prayer “quirk” is that I really prefer to pray with names. Yes, God knows who you are, but without a name, I tend to lose track of folks. There’s this idea in my head that is ever before me about how my heart and my efforts on His behalf are always seen by the Lord. I want to do my best work.
Why am I sharing this? Well, yesterday, five terrific people reached out to me. They were all struggling in some way with the current situation in which we find ourselves. I promised prayers, and they thanked me. In fact, three of them texted back later with rather effusive gratitude. It struck me as work Jesus gave me and it gave me great joy to feel I had helped in a small, but meaningful way as I sit in quarantine and I felt gratitude and joy. It happens to me a lot, these requests. Do you need prayers too? I’ll be glad to pray for you. Share your name or your specific intention by replying to the post, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll pray. I promise. When God sent Jesus here, He was telling us He wanted to be with the ones He loves. I want that too.
I’ll leave you with one last thing. For all of you who are more like “Get behind me, Satan” Shelly from this morning, be gentle with yourself. I struggle interiorly with that concept, and I know a lot of you do too. We are all doing our best, ugly though it may look at some moments. St. Benedict implores us about this. He says we should never despair of God’s mercy. That seems an apt, helpful reminder to me this day.