Go big or go home. That's our mantra around here.
Late last night (okay, late for me) I was messaging and later video chatting with a dear friend of mine, a former co-worker whom I met in Germany several years ago. Thessally and her husband are devout Catholics, and we all went to the same church on Ramstein AF base. One of my favorite memories of our friendship was Easter Vigil 2009, when Thessally and I both gave up sweets for Lent, and proceeded to gorge, er, celebrate by stuffing our faces with candy, cookies, margaritas, what have you, after the holiest day in the Church calendar. Her husband, who is in the Air Force, was deployed to Kuwait, and as I'm sure you can imagine, holidays were tough for my friend and her two daughters. Thessally decided to make the best out of a difficult situation, so she invited Will and I over to her home for a delicious pre-Vigil dinner. Then the five of us attended the Vigil (which is SO beautiful), and returned to her home, staying up until 2am, eating, drinking, and laughing. It's one of my favorite memories from Germany, and Thessally and I had a nice moment of nostalgia last night while FaceTiming.
I haven't been to Easter Vigil in years, mainly because while it is the most beautiful mass of the year, it's also the longest. A possibly 3-hour long mass beginning at 8pm does not really work out when one has small children, so for the past couple of years we've braved Easter morning mass (having to leave for church almost an hour early if we even have the slightest hope of finding a parking spot). Naturally, last night I started feeling funny. Tired, achy, scratchy throat, and despite my fervent prayers not to get sick, well, I'm sick. There are few things I hate more than missing mass on a holy day of obligation, but I just don't feel right dragging my infected butt out of bed and possibly unleashing a swarm of germs upon small children, pregnant ladies, and the elderly. So, I am sitting grumpily in bed, bringing you a blog post while my brave, brave husband dresses the kids and prepares to take them to mass himself. That, ladies and gentleman, is a real man.
One thing I always try to practice during Lent is humility. This...does not always work out. I know that as a Catholic woman, I *should* pray for peace, tranquility, the ability to accept certain unpleasant situations with grace, and above all, forgiveness. Forgiveness is especially difficult for me. I have a tendency to hold a grudge, to unleash the snark at VERY inappropriate moments, and to ruminate on things that I can never change. Take this past Christmas, for example.
I mentioned in a previous blog post that we spent our Christmas (the day, and the week of) at Memorial Central Hospital here in Colorado Springs. Tony had osteomyelitis, and Will and I were scared to death. It is a treatable illness, but it can become very serious very quickly. On December 23, the pediatric ortho surgeon informed Will and I that Tony needed surgery to drain an abscess on his ankle. We knew it was necessary, but that didn't stop us from worrying over every possible scenario. On Christmas Eve day, Will took the girls home while I stayed at the hospital with Tony, who was VERY upset because he hadn't been able to eat or drink anything since 8pm. The surgery was scheduled for 11am, but since we were on "hospital time," he wasn't wheeled in to the operating room until 1:00. By then, I was physically and emotionally wrung out. I collapsed onto a chair in the surgery waiting room for family members, and began sending a text message to Will to give him a brief update.
Seconds later, a man pulled out a chair at the table where I was sitting, and started talking to me. I wasn't in the mood for conversation with strangers, but I politely answered his (somewhat intrusive) questions about who I was waiting for, what kind of surgery was my son having, etc. He asked if he could say a prayer for my son, and I said absolutely. He began to pray, and at some point looked at me. Or, more specifically, he looked at my cell phone cover, which has a picture of the Immaculate Heart of Mary on it. He launched into a tirade about the evils of the Catholic Church, how I follow a false religion, what have you. He paused long enough for me to say, "Excuse me. Maybe you didn't hear me the first time, but my four year old is having SURGERY. If you're under the impression that I'm going to get into a theological debate with a complete stranger on Christmas Even morning while my son is under general anesthetic, you're extremely confused." Unfortunately, that didn't stop him, and he began to get nasty. Oh, and it's totes cool, he knew what he was talking about because he USED to be Catholic. Well, clearly that meant he was more knowledgable than the pope, right?
I know what I *should* have done. I should have excused myself, I should have said I would pray for him, I should have done a multitude of things. Instead, I told him to leave me alone so I could pray for my son in peace. When he stood up and told me that he would pray my son would be rescued from non-believing parents...oh, it was ON. My response? "You have no idea how lucky you are. If my four-time Iraqi war veteran husband was here right now, he would kick your ass!"
Not my finest hour.
You would think that my anger would have ended there, but newp. I spent the rest of the week stewing about the nerve of this guy, just who did he think he was, and did he honestly think that harassing parents in a surgical waiting room was the way to get them to join his uber fundie church? Oh, and did I stop there? Of course I didn't. I kind of wished in the moment, I had the presence of mind to show Mr. I'm So Much More Holy and Devout Than You this picture.
Or this one:
Much holy. Much Catholic.
So, umm, yeah. Let's just say I had a lot of reflecting to do during this Lenten season. I am not very good when it comes to turning the other cheek, forgiving those who do my family and I wrong, and moving past hurt and anger. Or, you know, all the things that my faith demands I do. After the "incident" at the hospital, I came to an unpleasant realization over the next couple of months. I have, to put it mildly, a lot of work to do. I need to have more patience with my kids, myself, strangers, well, pretty much everyone. I need to focus on prayer, rather than spite. I need to forgive. I need to learn to move on, and accept that some people will never listen to reason or logic.
On this Easter Sunday, whilst stuck at home in bed, I resolve to focus on what's important (for me, that means not browsing Facebook or Instagram and berating myself for not having a perfect Easter setup for my kids because I'm feeling so miserable right now), but rather watching mass on EWTN live, saying a few prayers, and focus on getting myself better so I can have the energy to do fun things with my kiddos tomorrow when Will goes back to work. This gig (parenting, wifing, being a Catholic woman in today's crazy world) ain't easy, but I always try to remember that we are called to holiness. Not perfection, not a lifetime of never making mistakes, but a life of learning from our mistakes, confessing our sins, and always striving to better ourselves. After all, as St. Augustine said, "There is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future."
He is Risen! Alleluia, Alleluia. The happiest of Easters to you.