Sunday, April 4, 2010

Among the Pots and Pans

Lent is over, and the veil wars continued to the very end. There were two minor insurrections during the Easter Vigil, but I won out…….and I noted with some satisfaction that the Passion reading from Luke on Thursday held the words: “now, one who has a purse should take it…” I took that as a sign that, while I might continue to fight with the veil (not wanting to be bested), I can in confidence carry my handbag once more….

So now I sit, on a beautiful Easter Sunday reflecting on the journey of the last six weeks and the last five years. Five years ago, I gave up the Episcopal church for Lent and this year I stood aside as nine people who depended on me for guidance in their journeys came into the Church. From that Easter to the present….how I am changed!

In the quiet of the Triduum, I reflected on how my life is different, not in the external ways but the internal ones. A random call from my daughter as I was preparing the reception for the RCIA students placed it in immediate and astounding perspective:

Hi, Mom. They guys want me to make pigs in a blanket. Can you give me the recipe? The one with crescent rolls?

Sure. Get the small cocktail sausages, and some cheddar cheese. Put a bit of cheese with each sausage and wrap in the roll; you won’t need a whole roll for each one. Bake however long it says on the package.

Thanks, Mom. Love you!

Not more than half of a minute, the ordinary stuff of days, but it reduced me to tears on the spot for the very grace of it. How blessed I am and how very unworthy. Blessed to have children, ones who call and visit and share their lives with me. To have a husband. To have suffered through and survived, so far, all the trials of parenthood to date. To know that children and husband both are in the tender care of Christ and His Mother, and that they will do Their part, even when I don’t do so well at mine. To be privileged to help people in their journey to the church. I would seem that the major revelations of my faith come in the midst of the pots and pans….

And no mistake there. St. Martha, my good friend and namesake, no doubt in cahoots with St. Therese, has figured out how to help keep me focused on the important things, even as I labor away among the matter that made her (and often me as well) grumble to our Lord. It was the ability to offer as prayer, real and joyful, the preparation for the reception that really underscored for me the difference in my life. I’ve always enjoyed extending hospitality, but it often came at a price. Ask my kids, who undoubtedly recall the great mayonnaise controversy….

I was preparing Thanksgiving dinner some years ago, and in the midst of several things simultaneously, my daughter asked me to make tuna salad for lunch. I complied grudgingly, but when she complained about the amount of mayo in the salad, I erupted. It’s something I can remember with a wry smile, but I truly regret that my kids must remember the tension in the midst of those days when it should have been joy.

For I really do see now, however imperfectly, whatever I do as prayer, and that makes it ever so much harder to be cross (though not impossible. Again—ask the kids…and my groom). I have learned to pause and offer up myself and my tasks in the midst of what I am doing, not always, but often enough to make a difference.

Thank you, God, that I have dishes to do and food to dirty them and friends to empty them. Thank you God that I have a car that has managed to run out of gas at this inconvenient time. Thank you for a boss who reminds me that I am not as good as I think I am. Thank you for the sharp edge of a friend’s tongue when she reminds me of my selfishness. Thank you for the slip of the veil, and the replacement one a friend sent when she read of my trials, and the pleasure on my bonus baby’s face when he sees me wear the one he gave me…Thank you. Thank you.

Five years ago, being Catholic was about what I did and where I worshipped. I still struggled with the external details: words of prayers, when to kneel and when to stand, and what weeks brought a second collection. Along the way, a year or two into my journey, I took on daily mass as my Lenten discipline. I entered by what I do into a more profound relationship with the Eucharistic Lord, and in the briefest of moments this Holy Week, I see where it has led me, without my seeing it or realizing it was happening.

It has led me to greater trust, though I still find it difficult to let go. I have a more profound and greater faith, though I still stumble, daily. I have greater calmness of spirit, even in the midst of social controversies—like health care reform and scandals in the church--- that threaten the world in which I live. I am more generous with myself and my things, without even thinking about it. I think I better understand what it is to love—action, not emotion, though I still wish I could like those I am called to love. I am certainly more thankful for the everyday grace in my life. I cherish the occasional, overwhelming awareness deep inside myself (not just in my fertile little brain) that it all really is grace, and I am called on to abandon myself to it. I find myself more and more amused by my own imperfections, for, after all, I am, unique, precious, unrepeatable and His, warts and all. In the last few hours of Lent, in my own kitchen, as I chopped fruit and contemplated my Lord in a tomb, I was graced with a brief view of the path that has led me here. And looking backward with astonishment and great joy, I’m anxious to take the next step forward.

Being Catholic is what I am and what I am still to become. Though I struggle at an intellectual level (that gift that is my thorn in the flesh) with knowing Someone I have never seen, it seems that I have become a woman who meets Him everywhere. Five years later, Catholic is about Whose I am, not what I do. Whose I am, it seems, determines the path I take.

Alleluia, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed---and I cannot wait to see where He leads me next.

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