If my transition experience from young adult ministry to marriage and family life were a NASCAR race, I pulled into pit row for a tire change four years ago and still haven't made it back to the track. It's frustrating to feel like I'm missing out.
|There is a New Evangelization taking place, and I AM STUCK ON THE SIDELINES!|
I so badly want to be a part of the transformation of parishes from within, a passionate next generation of Catholics who won't be conservative or liberal or Catholic lite or Catholic Taliban, and the conversion of entire parishes.
I want to join the think groups at the heart of program and event planning and to build up the small groups of life sharing within a parish. But I can't even make it to the weekly moms' group at church more than, well, so far my record is three times a year.
So on a cold, rainy Friday evening, I dropped off my kids -- already in PJs -- at the nursery, printed "Charlene" neatly on a nametag, and headed down the hall to the conference. I anticipated a full spiritual immersion, journaling in nature, new revelations, new friends, chats with speakers...
The rest of the weekend was spent pacing the parish hallway, holding my panicked and clingy two-year-old who would sooner resort to repeat asthma attacks than play with his brother, new toys, and nice volunteers in the nursery.
I kept overhearing inspirational proclamations from the conference and wanted to be in there, learning and networking.
Instead, I paced with Josh in the church hallway, wondering about the big picture of God's work in the world: how can I be part of all this, when my family seems to need me on-call and mostly in-person 24-7?
Ennie Hickman was one of the last speakers of the retreat. I was sitting cross-legged against the back wall of the gym, with ears on the speaker and eyes on Josh, who had just discovered the A/V cables. (I had been standing with him in the my arms until he reached over my shoulder and found the light switches.)
Ennie said, "Outreach to our world starts in our city." And then he asked, "What is your city?"
I've been a little distracted the last four years. If I'm home, there's a toddler clinched to my leg (or in my arms, if the leg pull was successful), and if I'm at work, files are hopefully sorting themselves to alphanumeric homes while I wonder what my kids are doing, and all of it, always, with a constant sense that I'm missing out on greater things God is doing in the world. Did I take a wrong turn somewhere?
I thought joining the movement of New Evangelization in my Church would mean a commitment to being more places, talking with more people, a line up of more babysitters, and a whiteboard of more projects. It's the stuff that makes tired moms of young children panic.
But after a weekend of pacing halls with my little one, I realized that all of my distractions from the holier things in life -- kids without babysitters, menial work, and clingy babies -- are actually a personally prescribed path to holiness. Of course it looks different from what everyone else is doing. That's how God works.
|Rescuing worms from the sidewalk after it rains: #784 in things to do instead of drinking delicious coffee and talking with people about deep spiritual things|
Fifteen years ago, on World Mission Sunday, the Church named the Patron Saint of Missionaries as a new Doctor of the Church. Surprising to many (including me), this wasn't a parish priest, an evangelist, the missionary who had traveled the farthest in the history of the Church, or even someone who had traveled at all. The Co-Patron of Missionaries is a sickly obscure French girl who spent her few years cloistered in a convent, entrusted only with the most menial tasks of community (dishes, cleaning, and cooking -- sound familiar?).
My little insane asylum of life is actually compiled and gifted by a God who's more concerned with making me holy than me making the world holy. And just maybe, if I can get over all the comparing and complaining and questioning, one will actually lead to the other.