Nice Surprises

For today’s Seven Quick Takes, I’m going to take a slightly different tack…hope you’ll bear with me!

Every so often, something I think will be just one more commitment unexpectedly turns out to be a blessing.

Such was the case with the Religious Ed Institute I attended today. It involved two sixty-mile round trips with a really awful night in between, an extremely overtired baby (who, nonetheless, managed to flirt with every single person in the building)—and thus, a Mommy with an attitude that was less than open to blessings.

Surprise #1: Bobby Fisher. I’ve heard him talk at pastoral music conventions, but I didn’t know until I played flute with him on guitar today, how amazing a guy he is. Such a positive attitude, such a gentle soul. And when they asked us to turn to the person next to us and share how we praise God, he said simply, “Through music.” And I realized how sterile my own contribution has become.

Surprise #2—I am Martha! I juggle all my various interests and commitments, and get everything done (well, except the housework), but at the cost of taking anything slow and quiet—and slow and quiet is the source of whatever holiness I achieve. I’ve accepted that chaos is the rule of my life for the next few years, and in so doing, I’ve ceased to try to find quiet. I say all the right things to my choir, and hopefully I’m able to facilitate worship for them and for the community—but I never pay attention myself, because there are so many layers of thought running the Indy 500 in my head. In short—I am Martha. And although this is a rather depressing realization, I’m grateful for it, because you can’t fix a problem of balance until you’re aware of it.

Surprise #3— Nicholas, who decided that today was the day to learn to army crawl. He did it halfheartedly, one tug, last week, but this morning when I got tired of holding such a squirmer, I put him on the floor as I stood in the back of church beside a priest friend of mine (wearing clericals and open-toe sandals, if that tells you anything about the weather). A minute later, Fr. Dave jumped about three feet sideways and then collapsed laughing, and I glanced down to see Nicholas staring at Fr. Dave’s toes with the injured expression of someone who has been denied a great treat. I put him back on the other side of me and took my shoe off, so he could go after my toes instead, but that boy promptly crawled his way around my foot and went for Dave’s instead. Cuteness.

Surprise #4—Inspiration. After that rotten night, I intended to retreat to the van and nap during one of Nicholas’s sleep periods, and walk in the park for the other. Well, I made it to the park by skipping the second keynote, but the rest of the time, I was participating. I attended a session on craft projects that can be used in religious instruction. And oh, what a treasure trove that turned out to be!

Surprise #5—Peace of Mind. I fell into conversation with a teacher at our school about something that has been weighing on my mind all week, and by the time I was finished talking to her, I had some much-needed clarity—as well as a great practical suggestion for avoiding the problem from recurring.

Surprise #6—Hope. Two other teachers stopped to ask about my quest to get special education in the local Catholic school—an effort that hasn’t borne much fruit. These two teachers suggested a whole different approach: inclusion. In retrospect, I should have thought of it before. The whole point of inclusion is not to have to have a special ed teacher. It gave me hope that we might yet manage to get Julianna in Catholic school…depending on all the factors that we won’t know for another couple of years.

Surprise #7—Glory. When I crossed the street from the Cathedral and took Nicholas on a walk in the park, I discovered a warm, breezy, sunny November day, and a beautiful walking path. While Nicholas slept, I sat and wrote most of this post, and when he woke, we went on walking, until I just had to leave behind the certainty of concrete and delve into piles of oak leaves up to my ankles, my feet sinking into the unseen softness of mole tunnels, while tiny gray squirrels darted across my path.

I had a whole different post for Seven Quick takes, but it can wait for next week…