So this picture is rather apropos considering our current state of affairs—which is a mess!
Blurry, me stooped, E not looking, photobombed by a broom, my bow untied after wrestling with a toddler through a bunch of even worse photo outtakes. Yeah, that’s about right. My dress is from Forever 21; I wore it to my bridal shower a million years ago (alright, almost 4 years ago, but it feels like a million!) E’s dress is from Stelly Belly. It was her birthday dress from a year ago but is only now fitting properly. [Did I mention the theme for today is MESS?] Ha!
I spent the week consumed in prayer, in a good way. I felt His loving arms around me every single day. I even made it to morning Mass on Wednesday and Friday, which provided me with so much comfort. Still praying for change, still operating with worry just under the surface, but ultimately hopeful and abiding in Him. I was trusting and positive, and it felt so good!
But then yesterday came. Sunday, a day of rest, a day of worship, and the one blissful, blessed day that my husband shares with us. And I hit a wall. Instead of prayer consuming me, I was consumed by worry.
I suppose the day could have gone either way, or possibly just ended up with me being a little grumpy, had things transpired differently at Mass. I have become accustomed to our routine of rotating back and forth in the narthex, chasing and juggling and whispering and hushing our baby girl. But this time she didn’t even make it through the entrance hymn without crying and fussing and actually demanding to leave. (Ordinarily we can get her to the homily or at least to the Gospel reading.) She was an absolute mess the entire time. As a result, I was a sweating, begging, heart racing ball of chaos myself.
I am used to my almost 2 year old behaving like an almost 2 year old. But yesterday was enough to leave me in tears. At Communion, E actually tried to grab the hand of the Eucharistic minister and pull out the host. She wanted to have one just like mama and yelled her own name. Sigh. E spent the entire time she wasn’t confined to the narthex trying to run up the aisle to the side altar. She is in love with the two beautiful, enormous angels up there and the candles surrounding them. She wanted to see them and be with them all Mass. At the end of Mass, after comforting her following a trip and face plant on the marble floor, we brought her up to see the angels. We approached the altar very respectfully, and she said hello to the angels, never touching them, just happily beaming in their beauty.
These angel photos aren’t the ones our our altar, but they are reminiscent of them. The ones on our altar are so beautiful and old.
My husband and I noticed two women staring at us in horror. As if we were doing something terribly wrong. One approached me and said sternly, “Those aren’t secured.” I assured her we would never let E touch them or run around the altar. I even introduced my husband, E, and I, but she maintained her stern, disapproving demeanor.
I know she is probably a very good person. I see her at morning Mass. Normally I always give people the benefit of the doubt. After all, I’ve said and done things I regret. But after this hard morning, and this week of strained optimism, all I wanted was some peace and welcoming in God’s house. I could have burst into tears. Then I remembered that E is a child of God, a member of our church parish just like everybody else there, and Jesus said let the little children come to me. E is little and learning. In my own way, I am still little and learning. But we were as deserving of a place at God’s table as anyone else and perhaps more than anyone else there that morning needed to see those angels and be reminded of how they are working in our lives RIGHT NOW.
Our dwindling bank account, my husband’s long, grueling hours, our desperation to have another child despite financial circumstances that make it impossible, our struggle just to make it through each day choosing love and hope over fear and worry. That woman couldn’t know those things or how much we just sought sanctuary in God that morning. I tell myself she had good intentions. I try to maintain perspective.
Then I realize that’s the real issue—trying to maintain perspective. In the midst of all of this chaos—our personal worries and a world in which a person can pick up a gun and end the lives of so many in so little time—it’s hard to remember that God’s mercy and love conquer fear and worry and evil. We pay a price for free will. Yet just as there are people who use that will for terrible, evil things or perhaps just for seemingly small, inconsequential acts that lack kindness, there are people out there whose wills are united with Christ’s and who are choosing to show love in all that they say and do every single day. I encounter far more of the latter than the former. I need to remember that. And I need to remember when I start to make choices or behave in a way that turns little children away from angels. We are ALL children of God. I can never know what is in the hearts of those before me. But I can always trust in kneeling on the altar and opening my heart to God’s angels.