Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thoughts on Stewardship

Last night, I sat shivering in the field behind our Parish Center as the sun went down and darkness descended on the field. I kept wishing I had thought to bring a blanket. More than once, I thought of marching across the field and telling Princess we had to go... I was cold, it was dark, and she is 4 years old. Why were we still at soccer practice?

But as I sat there, squinting in the darkness, trying to make out Princess' form (nearly invisible, clad in black sweatpants and a purple sweatshirt), I heard the coach exclaim:

"Excellent! You got it, [Princess]! That was perfect. Now, do another one, just like that last one!"

I beamed with pride. That was my little Princess Coach was applauding. And my thoughts went back to something Father said during his homily that morning. He's been working on the theme of "stewardship" all week: specifically, that we do not "own" our lives, but are merely stewards of these lives God has given to us, without our asking for it. It is our responsibility to be good stewards of our lives, and to use the gifts God has given us to help others.

As I sat there, warmed somewhat by my pride in Princess' accomplishments, I realized that, as a parent, I am even more blessed. God has given me not just my own life, but these three other lives as well. I do not get to be their steward forever... but for these fleeting years, DH and I get to care for, guide, and treasure these lives. We are the ones who teach them how to discover their gifts. We teach them how to use their gifts wisely and well. And in doing that, we are learning more about our own strengths and weaknesses. In parenting, DH and I are growing spiritually as much as (if not more than) the kids are growing physically.

Stewardship, by definition, includes some measure of sacrifice. The traditional phrasing we hear at mass is "time, talent and treasure." Last night, my sacrifice didn't really fall into any of those categories. It was more a sacrifice of physical comfort. But the joy-filled grin on Princess' face as she ran across the field to me when practice was (finally) over more than made up for the physical discomfort of an hour in the cold.

God is always working to purify us, to refine us. Sometimes that happens in a fiery furnace of difficult times. Sometimes it occurs in a dark field on a cold October evening.

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