Not too long ago, I was sitting at my weekly Catholic Women of the Chapel meeting. We were reading and discussing the book Walking With Mary, and we got to chatting about the wedding feast at Cana. Specifically, when the wine ran out and Mary asked Jesus to perform to be what I consider one of the coolest miracles ever; turning water into wine. This prompted a great discussion about the strict social customs of the time, how it was considered to be the ultimate faux pas to run out of wine at a celebration, and how Jesus truly turned the water into actual wine, and not grape juice (as I've heard before). Now, obviously our musings had much to do with the miracle Jesus performed. However, what I've always found so interesting about the wedding at Cana is that it was Mary who noticed the impending disaster. She and Jesus were guests at the wedding, but Mary wanted to spare the groom's family the embarrassment of having to tell their guests that they had run out of wine. So she did the only logical thing; Mary turned to her Son, the miracle worker, and asked him to remedy the situation. As we all know, Jesus turned the water into gallons and gallons of wine, more than anyone could possibly drink, and everyone continued celebrating.
I've called upon our Mother frequently, not as a miracle worker, but to intercede on my behalf TO the ultimate miracle worker, her Son. One of the ladies at the meeting told us that one of the greatest (and simplest) prayers she relied upon during difficult times was, "Mary, I'm out of wine!" Crazy, isn't it? Yet there's something about the honesty and, frankly, desperation of that sentence that really resonates with me. How many times have you been at your wits end, with chaos raining down on you and nowhere to turn? I've certainly been there, and as a woman, a wife, and a mother, I often turn to our Blessed Mother. Yes, she is the ultimate model of chastity, obedience, and virtue. But...she was presented with the most earth-shattering news in the history of the world as a teenage girl, and she accepted without question. She gave birth to, cared for and protected her Son, who was the savior of the world. She experienced more heartache and agony than any mother should ever have to face. Because of Mary's strength, her fortitude, and her gentleness and humbleness throughout her life, she is frequently the one I turn to in prayer and in desperation. Take the other day, for example.
Our fridge and pantry had reached Code Red status the day before payday, but thanks to my mad budgeting skillz, I knew we could make a trip to the commissary to re-stock for the week. Our morning didn't get off to the greatest start; Tony went to bed late and woke up ridiculously early, and when I told him he wasn't allowed to watch cartoons on Will's tablet, he threw a fit and woke up Alessandra to punish me. I was not pleased. The morning continued with incessant demands for every type of breakfast food imaginable, more tantrums, and a dog who decided to throw up grass all over the dining room carpet. By the time I actually got everyone buckled in their car seats, I was exhausted and in no mood to brave the commissary. What are you going to do, though, amiright? Armed with my grocery list, budget and Tula (Alessandra has been throwing a fit when I place her in the cart), we pulled into the lot...and my heart sank. There was some huge case lot sale going on, and the parking lot was jam packed. Realizing once again I had no other options, I put Little Miss in the back carry, Tony in the cart, and I rushed through the store like I was training for a marathon. I was feeling pretty good about myself, and congratulating my kids on their exceptionally good behavior, when I noticed the line. A line that stretched all the way past the checkout counters, past the deli, past the dairy products, and all around the store to the snacks and cookies (of course). With a sinking feeling, I pushed the cart to the end of the line, and made wild promises to my children ("extra goldfish crackers at lunch! a trip to the super awesome park later this afternoon! a popsicle after nap time!"), and hoped for the best.
"The best" didn't last long. Within minutes, Alessandra was screeching to be let out of the Tula, and when I tried to put her in the car seat, that became another battle. She wanted to run around, and with the commissary chaos and my back giving out on me, that was not going to happen. I put her back in the Tula, ignoring the stares and raised eyebrows of the other patrons at my child's demon-like shrieks. I was hissing "don't touch!" every 2.7 seconds at Tony, who was trying to reach over and grab a bag of Oreos without me notcing (a pregnant woman not noticing that a package of Oreos made its' way into her cart? Not likely). A few moments later, I realized Alessandra's cloth diaper had given out when I felt the unmistakable trickle of...urine, yes, urine down my back. At that point, I was near tears, and the line showed no signs of moving. I put my head in my hands, and slightly louder than I intended, said, "Mary, I'm out of wine!" Okay, not the most inconspicuous move on my part. A largely pregnant woman with a toddler on her back, and a preschooler in an overflowing grocery cart is bound to draw some attention. But just saying those few words, just getting out my frustration, gave me the strength to press on. And press on, I did. After standing in line for 45 minutes (seriously), we got to the checkout counter, paid for our items, made a potty stop for Tony, and made our way back home. After feeding my whiny crew with our newly acquired groceries, I removed my pee-stained shirt and took a luxurious shower while the kids played quietly in Tony's room.
Was it a perfect end to an imperfect day? No. No one wanted to nap, Alessandra refused to sit on the potty, and Tony gave me attitude until Will finally walked in the door that night. Fortunately, due to either my extremely low standards as of late or the fact that I knew my kids were overtired and crabby, I wasn't expecting a water into wine kind of miracle. Nope. I just wanted to get by...and get by I did. I rarely, if ever, pray for things, or pray for permission. I don't think God really cares (nor should He) if I want a fancy new car, a big house, or a fat bank account. He has more important matters on His hands. I do, however, pray for strength. And grace. And forgiveness. And a slew of other things that will ultimately make me a better Catholic, a better wife, and a better mother. I frequently seek the intercession of Mary and the saints, and ask them to pray for me when life is just too much for me to handle. I'll admit, coming from a Protestant background, that asking for intercession is still somewhat of a new concept for me. It was something I initially struggled with during my conversion, and slowly grew to understand over the years. After doing more reading on the lives of the saints, I came across this quote, from Saint Maximilian Kolbe. "Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did."
To end on a light note, I shall leave you with this. Happy weekend, everyone.