Monday, November 24, 2008

Serving Where I Am

A few weeks ago, while I was on my personal retreat, I prayed a lot for help in knowing how to take the peace I had found at the Shrine back into my everyday life. The last thing I did before heading home was attend mass in the Shrine chapel. The priest gave a homily that day about being a servant... that each of us is called to serve others, and that we need to serve with a happy and humble heart. He cautioned us not to look for rewards for our service in this life; our rewards await us in the eternal life.

I took a few deep breaths in the quiet between the end of the homily and the beginning of the Prayers of the Faithful. I knew, in my heart, that this was the answer I had been seeking. I've tried my best to take this "happy, humble servant" attitude home with me, and to put it into practice in my everyday roles as wife, mother, friend, daughter, parishioner.

I've watched it work. It's really quite amazing. On the days (or, at least, in the moments) when I remember that I am, first and foremost, a servant of God, things go better. I get less frustrated. I can handle the delays, surprises, and accidents better. And on the days (or in the moments) when I forget that, when I put myself and my desires first, I am more frustrated, more impatient, less loving, less kind.

Yesterday morning, I woke, after not sleeping well all night, in a state of panic. There is so much to do... and Thanksgiving is in just a few days. We have guests arriving on Wednesday. We are hosting 15 for dinner on Thursday. The house is a wreck. Groceries need to be bought (especially the turkey, which needs days to defrost). Laundry needs to be done. (Doesn't it always!) I panicked, and started to freak out in DH's direction. He was calm, gentle, and reminded me that I was not in this alone. He helped me take a deep breath, make out a list of what needed to be done, and then showed me how we would split the duties to get it all done.

This morning, I again woke in a panic. We had accomplished a good amount yesterday, but not as much as I'd hoped, and today was jam-packed as well. The stress was rising. Again, good and wise DH came to the rescue with some helpful suggestions. I headed out to 6:30 mass, feeling the stress tight in my chest. I knelt in the church, trying to slow my breathing, and prayed for peace in my heart. I prayed for the grace to know that all will get done, and to not be so impatient and crabby in the doing of it.

A short time later, Father stepped down into the center aisle to deliver his homily. He began talking about the Vietnamese martyrs we honor today, and talked about how each of us is called to be a "white martyr"... to serve with the love of Christ in our given vocations. He looked right at me, nodded, and pointed out that if we are wives and mothers, we are called to serve our families with joy and humility. That is all that Christ asks of us.

And, as I felt peace once again enter my heart, I was reminded, again, why daily mass is so very necessary for me.

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