Ice cream makes everything better...
O'my goodness it's been two weeks... How are you?! It's been too busy for words around here.
I had a birthday--wahoo 45! Jeff had a birthday, we had some parties. There was cake and it was delicious. We have been to the beach and the pool.
The Beauties went back to school--Thank you, Jesus!
There have been tears, ice cream, tears and ice cream, a diet coke and that is just me.
I went on a retreat for a day of reflection, Jeff has been away, home and away again; we have hosted and fed family members the last two weekends. There has been lots of cooking, cleaning, preparing and organizing. We located school supplies, did school shopping and hunted for hidden backpacks missing since June. We also have been in a heat wave, which makes us all cranky and hot. Did I mention we have no A/C? And one of the Beauties threw up in the car on the way to church.
In other words, nothing much going on here...
After writing all of this I feel like I need a diet coke and a shot of tequila. Welcome to the end of August. Where you find out what you are made of and it's never pretty.
This is why mothers should never write down what we do in a given day. Some days it's just overwhelming, just shocking what we accomplish. Which is why I was so happy to sit in mass today. Just sit and listen to the Word of God. I had no expectations, just gratitude for being in a house of worship. Father Charles Talley is our pastor and a Franciscan. We have been attending the family mass with the Beauties. One of the best things about going to services designed for children is the homily or sermon is crystal clear. I don't know about you, but sometimes I need very clear and very easy.
Now when I say easy, I mean easy to comprehend not always easy to do in practice. Father was explaining to the children something I thought was really profound. He explained to the children that helping the "poor" isn't always about the homeless person on the street. He explained beautifully that poor sometimes means the people that maybe just need a little of our time or a little more of our help than others in our daily journey. The people right in front of us, in our workplace, school and in our family.
What constitutes the poor in my life and how am I supporting them? I realized the poor in my life may in fact have more money, but may just be more isolated or lonely. Maybe it's the guy that's a little different who still sits alone everyday at lunch. We always tell our Beauties to be kind with the child who is a little different, but do we do the same? Do we have lunch or grab a coffee with the different or difficult person in our office? Do you ever invite "that relative" over for dinner? Or what about just talking to the single widower on your block? Just maybe drag his cans to the curb for trash day. We all sometimes stick to our own friends at school pick-up or drop-off, not out of meanness, but often just out of our own selfishness to catch up with our people. Or because we are stuck in our regular routine. Sometimes the "poor" are the moms who stand just a little to the side at drop off and hang back until the last second at pick-up; it's amazing how a hello and invite to the park play-date can change their day, or even just, "how are you doing this week?".
Helping the "poor" may also mean making yourself uncomfortable for the greater good. Jeffrey and I did that this week. It's not easy--believe me we have the sweaty and shaky hands to prove that! If you will indulge me, I have a little story:
I'm not sure how it is in other faiths, but when you change parishes in the catholic faith you fill out a registration card with your vital information. The card also includes volunteer opportunities. Jeff and I checked boxes for a number of volunteer ministries. What we didn't know is that our new parish is really good a getting you to commit! In our tradition, lay ministers read the readings from the Old Testament and the epistles or letters of the New Testament, while a priest or deacon reads from the Gospel (or the stories of Jesus' life found in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.) Jeffrey and I were all ready to read in the children's mass you know the easy, no pressure a little less formal--no less important. When we got the email for training, we were happy to attend a training session. It quickly became crystal clear that we were being trained to do the readings for the main LARGE mission church, the one that I don't want to know the capacity because I may faint, not the sweet little no pressure chapel. The Mission is stunning and the readers are top notch, professional, everything is buttoned up and beautiful. I love attending mass in the main Mission church. It's glorious. Jeff and I are "B" team people and are so good with that. Who wants to have sweaty hands when you get up in front of way too many. We want to proclaim the Word to folks who are trying to distract their two year old from melting down. Not to folks who may actually be listening, that's way too much pressure. Apparently, the lector coordinator thinks Jeffrey and I are ready--GULP. We have been asked to read at both the main Mission church in addition to reading at the children's mass in the sweet chapel. We were both stunned, gobsmacked. Did I mention we were stunned? We did what we are flawless at; we stalled. We asked for a few days to pray, discern and think about it. That is code for how do we politely get out of doing this without looking like jerks. Yep, we wanted out.
Why? Well who needs to be uncomfortable every time they go to mass. Aren't there better people or other folks or frankly anyone else who can read in the large church. Isn't it enough--we were willing to do it in the small chapel?!?! And then the lector coordinator lovingly told us that this is a vocation and it was no coincidence we were there. The Holy Spirit was calling us. Hammer moment, from our cartoon days when one character would get hit over the head and see stars. We were seeing our own stars, being nervous, uncomfortable and having sweaty palms wasn't good enough. It just wasn't. We were being called to serve others, and some of those others may be the very poor that needed to hear the Word of God from us. The Divine was telling Kathryn and Jeff that life isn't supposed to always be comfortable.
What I failed to tell you in the beginning of the story was that we took Ian and Norah to the training session. They saw us practice the readings in the car and then stand up and essentially audition. My dress was wet with sweat from nerves. Nerves because I wanted to do well, wanted the Beauties and Jeff to be proud. I wanted to in my own ambitious way, "kill it". To pat-myself-on the back, to know in my heart, I did it, I had made myself uncomfortable and then would happily go back to the kid's mass in the chapel where we belonged. With a little luck, hopefully never having to read on the big stage.
When we were done after 1.5 hrs, pushing 6 pm, I was hot, tired and I wanted a martini, but instead we settled on ice cream. Jeff and I split French vanilla with peanut butter cups. The Beauties each telling us that we were the best readers. It was a lovely moment. Jeff and I trying to figure our how we were going to politely defer, we are so busy, I've got health issues, Jeff travels, surely you really don't want us...
What I didn't expect was the true gift the next morning--the first day of school. Both kids were nervous and excited and when Ian had a few tears leak out of his lashes, I was able to share my truth. "Hey Ian, I don't know if you realized yesterday I was soooo nervous and so was Dad. Did you realize that?" He looked up with his soft and loving blue eyes, his long dark eyelashes wet with tears, when another tear accidentally leaked out, "No, Mom I didn't." I went on to explain that I was clammy, gross, nervous and maybe a little nauseous to try something new, my hands were a little shaky and I worried what others would think, worried I would make mistakes, worried I just wasn't good enough. But I knew in my heart that I had to try anyway. I told him I understood exactly where he was. He looked at both of us, nodded and jumped-up, brushed the errant tears and dashed off; Ian turned just long enough to say, "I've got this."
Later, after school, over ice cream he would say he had a fantastic first day.
My email to the lector coordinator that evening said, "We are in."
The Fergusons are all in, looking for the poor in the unexpected places; looking for the people who just need to feel a little more love in their life. Those who may need a smile, a hug, or maybe just to hear the word of God from a very nervous reader or her cute husband.
The Divine in me bows to the Divine in you.
Thank you for walking with me this week and always. I do use social media to keep in touch. You are welcome to find me on
or comment below. I personally answer all my correspondence...and I'm always glad to meet another traveler. xo
Photo Credit: PilgrimageGuy