I've joined a morning walking group with some other area moms. We stroll the kids for about 3 miles, then let them play at the park. It's really hot, but a great workout and just what I need right now! I'm feeling much healthier after just a week of exercise and eating better recently. After the walking group today we visited the Adoration chapel nearby. It's always nice to make a visit to Our Lord with the girls, especially Mary Clare who is beginning to understand the things of God.
Tonight she said that "Jesus came down to be a child so he can come to you and pick you up and carry you close to his heart." (from a Christmas movie she has) Then she told me I was the best mommy in the whole world and gave me a big hug! She was excited to show everyone her new light-up tennis shoes today, and was happy to hear that Father David noticed them from the altar even though we were at the far back of the church! Ellie too made me smile when I told her it was bathtime and she ran to the bathroom crying "Ba, Ba!" They bring me such little joys and laughs each day!
It was a beautiful mass this evening. There were dozens of college students there to start the "Welcome Weekend" retreat for incoming freshmen. And there was wonderful music too. And of course I always feel so utterly blessed to have the priviledge of receiving Our Lord and Savior in such an intimate way, to strengthen me for the journey in his gift of the Eucharist. But the thing that hit me most at mass today was a reminder to count my blessings.
When I go to mass at St. Mary's alone with the girls, we sit in the cry room up on the balcony. At daily mass we're usually the only ones up there. But today there was a familiar face sitting on a balcony pew who turned around and waved and smiled, and all of a sudden I felt some tears down my cheeks. It was S, a young mother who I remembered was in my spot in the cry room about 10 years ago. She is a widow who tragically lost her husband just before I came to St. Mary's (I think it was a car accident or heart attack). And so now she raises her two preteen girls alone. When I came to St. Mary's I remember her at daily mass with her two little girls who were about my girls' ages, and they would sit up in the cry room. They were a sweet and somber little family. Last week, I believe it was on the Feast of the Assumption, this mother led a group of teenage girls to make a commitment to chastity. What a holy witness she is.
As I've said before, weekends are pretty hard for me when I'm at home. But just as I was just starting to feel my weekend-induced self-pity about being without my husband so much, God chose to remind me that there is always someone facing a heavier cross than I do. Tonight I tried to imagine the past 10 years S has had to go through without her husband, raising these two girls. Remembering S's situation, remembering our friends whose 2 year-old died in June, and remembering the visit to my aging grandmother a few days ago, I am starting to recognize the sorrows of the world, the sufferings of marriage and family and death, but also recognizing the redeeming love of Our Savior who makes good out of it all.
S came back into the cry room from her balcony spot during the sign of peace to greet me and remind me that she spent many a year back there. "I remember," I told her. I do remember.
Thank you Father, for the abundant blessings of my life. May I never again feel sorry for myself but realize that you are the God of all goodness and kindness, and even in the midst of sorrow and suffering, you are so close to your children and are doing great works through our pain. Please be ever apparent to those who have an especially heavy cross to carry. And may we be graced with the gift of hope, the hope that we will be reunited with all our loved ones to praise your name forever.
Thy Kingdom Come!