I lost control of our minivan on the icy highway last week. One minute everything was fine, and the next I was skidding and sliding, and then spinning, just waiting for the impact of a semi unable to avoid me. When the whole thing was over – when after two good samaritans tied my car to their truck and pulled me out of danger, and when my hands stopped trembling and the butterflies in my stomach finally settled – I thought, “Wow, well isn’t that something, how life truly can change, or be snuffed out, in but a matter of seconds?” And, no lie, I’ve cried every day since then because of that heightened awareness that I most certainly do not have all the time in the world to forgive, say what’s on my heart, love hard without embarrassment or need of reciprocation.
I teared up yesterday during Divine Liturgy at the Gospel reading about the Publican and the Pharisee, and then again when hearing the row of small girls next to me singing the Lord’s prayer in their sweet whispy voices. I took the Eucharist, expectantly, and then later swallowed the urge to lash out at one of my children, to defend my position on a matter of little importance (an un-acted upon urge that burned like heck going down). They mingled there together in my soul, Christ and my meager effort to kill off my egotism, creating an unexpectedly potent concoction of momentary relief from the staleness of my own self-consciousness. Oh so that’s how it works! Sacrifice first, resist first the impulse to nag, complain, assert my opinion, accuse, gossip, assume – pray first – and that miraculous kind of pure love capable of healing, of moving mountains, of freeing me from me, will bloom slowly, but surely.
This Valentine’s Day, I wish for you and me both enough faith in the grace of God to serve meekly our spouses, children, neighbors, co-workers even when it hurts – even when everything in us wants to scream: “How could you?!” “Do it yourself!” ”Can you not see how hard I’m working here?!” “No, listen to me, hear me, understand me, think about me, be the husband, child, neighbor, co-worker I want you to be!” Let’s just give it a shot – to, in the name of Christ, go out on a limb and keep our mouths shut but our acts of service plentiful and see what happens. I’ve got a good feeling about this – like maybe within the testing of our patience lies the key to a joy impervious to our fluctuating circumstances. I’ve got nothing to lose (but a whole bunch to possibly gain) by trying, right!
Love to you, every one of you! XOXOXOXO