It was fifteen minutes until Mass started, and we couldn’t find Julianna’s shoes.
Or more accurately, one of her shoes.
Now, to understand the full significance of this, you have to realize, first, that Alex was serving and he was supposed to be at church fifteen minutes ahead of time—and second, that Julianna only owns one pair of shoes.
So when Julianna is missing a shoe, it is a big deal. With the boys, I’d just say, “Whatever! It’s 80 degrees outside, go barefoot!” (Although probably not to church.) But Julianna walks on the inside of her feet. Barefoot is not a good idea.
I get very stressed when I get pressured. If I leave myself plenty of time, I can get the kids out of the house by myself without raising my voice at all. But put me in a last-minute situation, and I completely lose my head. With one shoe and insert perched at the top of the staircase, and the other one MIA, I tried to trace backwards and remember when and where it was that I saw her limping around the house with one shoe on and one foot bare—but my brain froze. And I kind of panicked.
Christian, disgusted, ordered me to the car to take Alex ahead while he looked for the missing shoe.
Alex was too late to serve, which would have crushed him except that we ended up getting to sit next to his BFF. Christian arrived in the middle of the opening song and managed to find us, tucked into the middle of the crowded church where we never ordinarily sit. But there wasn’t room in our pew, so he and the younger three sat behind me, while Alex and his bestie sat a row ahead of me.
And I had no one to supervise during Mass.
I took advantage of the rare mental space to try to focus on the prayers in a way I normally am not able to. I noticed the undercurrent of children’s voices undulating beneath the liturgical action—so many, many children. I knew we had lots of families, but I’d never appreciated before how just how many—how young our parish is, when so many parishes are aging out.
And thus sensitized, I realized anew how rich my life is. The fact that all the chaos around me is a result of that richness, that it flows from the outpouring of blessings I almost never take time to appreciate. If I hadn’t been given so much, I wouldn’t have so much to do.
It was a beautiful moment that made the rest of the day look a little more placid and colorful than usual.
And in case you’re wondering about the mysterious hiding place of the shoe?
It was in her closet.