On any given Sunday, you might be sitting in the front row at Mass, trying to look like a respectable family who actually has any business giving a presentation on faithful parenting later that afternoon, when your three-year-old flings himself to the floor and wails. And when asked what’s wrong, his response might be: “I’m sad because you told me to pay attention to Father!”
On any given Sunday, you and your husband might lead an afternoon devotional event as a guest artist while weighing the relative disruption that would be caused by a) leaving the music area to make your kids behave, versus b) just letting them run around the church.
On any given Sunday, you might invite the kids in the assembly to come up and lead hand motions for a song, only to have your fourth grader flail backward on the pew with an audible, and public, “Uggggghhhhhh!” (Note: you might also find that Preschooler’s hand motions default to “air guitar” as soon as your back is turned.)
On any given Sunday, you might be leading “Go In Peace” from the cantor stand for a small but enthusiastic group of worshipers, when you suddenly spy your three-year-old, the one you thought had gone to cuddle with Father, instead hanging over the edge of the church balcony. To which the only response is to step out of the hottest part of the mic and whisper, “Get down. DOWN. DOWN!” while pointing vehemently at the floor.
On any given Sunday, you might pack up after the liturgies and the presentations and find, right where the only well-behaved child was sitting, this :
On any given Sunday, you might find that Google sends you down a gravel road as the fastest route from Des Moines to mid-Missouri. Or you might find that Google can’t find you at all. Or that your signal vanishes altogether, such that you find yourself navigating by…gasp…a map. Ever heard of one of those?
All poking fun aside, we had a lovely weekend doing our first marriage-and-family-life presentations in the diocese of Des Moines, Iowa. The kids were wild about the Iowa Science Center, and we walked along the river and the triple-A Cubs stadium. The Hyatt where the diocese put us up was amazing. I wasn’t even in the room yet when the kids’ reaction told me we were going to be living in style for two days.
I’m always overwhelmed by how beautiful Iowa is. I know it, but it steals my breath anyway. In the two years I was driving back and forth from northern Iowa to Central Missouri, I was always torn between the soul-filling beauty and the homesickness. These days, when home comes with me, I find myself longing to pack up and put down roots in some place of long, rolling hills and black-walled drainage streams cutting through the green, of fields and woods and grasslands that stretch for miles in every direction, unbroken by city lights.
We come to the end of the weekend worn out and worn down, with a van so cluttered by the detritus of a road trip that we lost my folder of flute-and-piano Easter pieces between playing them at Mass and playing them at the afternoon stations of the empty tomb. But also grateful for the reminder of where we’ve been and where we are now. God is good.