For perspective, imagine if Starbucks offered car washes in their drive-thru. Childcare during parish activities is an unexpected and welcome indulgence. (Perhaps it shouldn't be.)
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 years ago and still haven't made it back on 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 deeply desire to join the transformation of parishes from within and a passionate next generation of Catholics.
I want to participate in the think tanks 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 our parish's weekly moms' group more than, well, so far my record is three times a year.
[I can't even make it to our parish's weekly moms' group 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 parish nursery, printed "Charlene" neatly on a nametag, and headed down the hall to the conference. I anticipated a full spiritual immersion: Adoration in the chapel, journaling in the prayer garden, new revelations, new friends, chats with speakers...
I spent the rest of the weekend pacing the parish hallway, holding my clingy two-year-old who would sooner succumb to repeat asthma panic attacks than play with his brother, new toys, and nice volunteers in the nursery.
I kept overhearing inspirational proclamations from the conference room and wanted to be in there, learning and networking.
Instead, I paced with Joshua in the church hallway, wondering about the big picture of God's work in the world: how can I be a 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 sat cross-legged against the back wall as he spoke, with ears to Ennie and eyes on my little Joshua who had just discovered the A/V cables plugged into the floor. (Moments earlier, I was standing with Josh in my arms as he reached over my shoulder to a row of switches on the wall and flicked the conference room lights.)
Ennie declared: "Outreach to our world starts in our city. What is your city?"
The entirety of the New Evangelization is not rooted in how loudly I can shout my truths out to the world, but in letting God in to change me, letting God past the prettiness I pull together for Mass each week to see the broken, sharp, disillusioned pieces within.
For the past many years, I've been a little distracted. 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 sorting to their alphanumeric homes while I wonder what my kids are doing at home -- and in all of it, feeling a constant insecurity that I'm missing out on the 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.
But after a weekend of pacing halls with my little one, I realized that all of my distractions from the holier things in life -- hyper toddler, menial office job, 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 Saint Therese, 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.