Thursday, December 10, 2009

Long and Complicated or Day 21

Some days there is a lot to write, some days not so much. Or, at least none of it is worthy of "publishing." Even the titles suck. So - I have mostly sat down to write, nothing comes out except drivel and then it is "saved for now" or immediately deleted. Today there is a lot to write, but I will try to stay focused and on topic. I will resort back to something I learned in high school (and that is scary on so many levels). Pick a topic to write about, introduce it, say three well-rounded things about it, and then conclude. Short and simple. And you know when you say that, it's just not true.

God never gives us more than we can handle. True? I am not sure. Nor am I completely sure what the heck that means (readers - feel free to clue me in). Lots of people told us that when we lost Frank. And lots of times I thought in my head, "What a load of crap." Or, more politely, "I must be a freaking wonder woman, then." I prefer to think (because I have known this to be true) - God tries to prepare our hearts for what is to come. Whether we recognize this preparation depends on us.

When we lost Frank, Ed had become a Catholic (okay - that still sounds weird when I say it and now I know that it writes even weirder). He had attended a retreat that could be labeled "charismatic" (I am pretty sure there were no snake charmers, men speaking in tongues, or head healings - but I cannot be completely sure.) When he got home he said, "Moni, I think God is telling me that He is preparing us for something that might not be great and I am a little frightened." And you know I am paraphrasing because if you know me you know that I am feeble-minded. Okay, so when I heard this I had several thoughts. Them being: 1. What? 2. Are you Nostradamus now that you are Catholic? 3. I have been Catholic since before I was born and God has never told me anything or prepared me for anything. 4. Again, what? Then Ed said he thought my mom or dad might die. So, I was a little freaked out. Time passed and the world didn't end, so I figured Ed was off his rocker.

Then we lost Frank.

I couldn't shake what Ed had said. I still can't. And I've had a good nine years to think about it.

Fast forward nine years, and I will tell you that I think I was being prepared for my mom's death. How did this happen? Like so many things God seems to do - quietly and in tiny bits. Strangely, I had been finding lots of interesting stories and quotes in the bible. Not a book I would pick up on a regular basis, but I had been. I found myself listening during the sermon at church (I think that's what we are supposed to do, but have been known to pull kids' ears - don't worry - just my own kids, think about the week ahead, or plot the ways in which I can reprimand the kids after church). This had gone on for a few weeks, and then around October I was handed the task of helping Malcolm prepare for his first reconciliation.

Now I am pretty old (not as old as light or the dinosaurs - but "old" nonetheless) and when I was a kid confession was to be feared. It was owning up to God for all the awful things you had done. Worse still it was having to tell these awful things to a PRIEST of all people. And, this is what I largely still believed going into said "preparation." I am an old Catholic, so I do rely on guilt as a daily (if not hourly) way of walking a straight line. And I largely thought of confession as a necessary, but useless sacrament made once and then put on a shelf never to be seen again. The first introduction into a guilt-led life. So, I took on this task of preparation less than enthusiastically and frankly a bit disgustedly since my own feelings about "reconciliation" left a lot to be reconciled.

Well, then we had our first preparation class and I learned what reconciliation and grace were all about. Among other things, I was reminded of Pope John Paul (the second??? yes, I think so) who went to the prison in order to forgive his shooter. I have heard this story before, but this time it was like I was hearing it with new ears and I was struck with the beauty of the story and its implications. Then Father said something just a little scary. He recommended parents go to confession at the same time as their children. Ah, yikes.

Well, you can just imagine how much pause that brought me. We went over the 10 commandments (which I can report I know now) and what they mean in daily life. And I realized that usually by about 8:00 a.m. every day I have broken at least two of the 10 commandments. I was also versed on An Examination of Conscience. I found this to be downright scary, but I wanted to not be a hypocrite and do this right. So, I examined my conscience. And, I was right. It was scary.

But, I did it. I went to confession. I cannot say that I am sold on the sacrament. And this is by no way an attempt to proselytize or sell you on confession. It was strange and I am not sure about all the implications of it, but what I can say without a doubt is that the following week I felt a strange feeling that I can only describe as calm.....possibly peace. This was two weeks before mom died.

It was with this residual feeling of calm and peace that I weathered the first experience I have ever had with a child going into the hospital. And it was with this fading feeling that I found out mom had died.

Fast forward again to last Monday night. Malcolm made his first Reconciliation. I am deeply comforted by the fact that mom had it carefully penciled in on her notepad that she kept by the phone. "December 7 - Malcolm - First Reconciliation." I know it's because she was going to pray for him. Faithfully pray. As she always did. One thing you can be sure of - if mom said she would pray for you - she would. Unceasingly.

I was there in church waiting in line in a strange scenario of little nervous second graders lined up to "confess." And their parents standing with them. Malcolm looked up at me with a silly grin and I prayed to mom, "Please, ma I know you were going to pray for him. Granted not like this. But please look down on him and bless his mind so that this brings him calm and peace.....And me, too."

Mom did bless him. He was granted peace and calm - it lasted about one day. But, that makes me smile. I confessed, too. Rest assured you will not have to read that. Instead I will share something the priest (without knowing of my current situation) said to me that has brought me peace and that I have thought about a lot. And this is my prayer for Day 21. He said (and, of course, I paraphrase), "For your penance I want you to pray the Our Father this beautiful prayer. But this time when you are praying it think about how you are a daughter. A beautiful daughter.................of God."

Day 21 Prayer of Our Father

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.
On earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day, our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.

Amen and thanks for the read


Shannon said...

OK crying again! Why do you keep doing that to me???
Beautifully written.

Jae said...

Tears here too. Wow ... many prickly, hair on my neck and arms, standing up moments reading this. I have always loved the Prayer of Our Father. Saying it in circle, with the women of MDO, always started off the workday right. Keep on writing, my friend. It seems to be doing you good. And it really makes me think too! Thank you!