When my oldest daughter was four, she befriended a little Japanese girl in pre-school and the two of them grew to be the best of friends. I was always amazed at how stoic Misho was, and her mother explained that it was part of their culture. One hot July day the kids were playing with the hose in the backyard to cool off and one of the more mischievous boys squirted Misho in the face, full-blast. I couldn't get to her fast enough to rescue her, but she didn't react other than to blink. My daughter would either have screamed her head off or clocked the boy over the head. Misho simply took it without saying a word.
As I watch the images coming from Japan, I can't but think of how that stoicism must be serving the nation now in the face of such destruction and uncertainty. It's certainly refreshing to see a society whose inhabitants do not compound a tragedy by stealing and looting. I simply cannot fathom the conditions and the magnitude of the loss. I have to leave it in God's Hands. It's hard to believe things could get worse.
This weekend at the silent retreat, the priest did something not normally done. He left the doors to the tabernacle where the Monstrance sat open on both sides, both into the public chapel and into the nuns' chapel. I, for one, was secretly delighted because this meant that every time the nuns gathered in their chapel to pray, we could hear them. Around 11 am I heard their angelic voices chanting and I felt like I was being wracked into two pieces, the pain was so great. It's hard for me to visit monasteries without thinking about what might have been. Suddenly, it struck me that it's not the lifestyle that I long for, it's the freedom to center one's entire life on Christ and to be so near Him in the Blessed Sacrament at all times.
It occurred to me that what I have mistaken as a kind of missed vocation is really just a very natural longing for Heaven. To me, the closest place to Heaven on earth is that Carmelite Monastery, although the Extraordinary Form of the Mass at my church fills that longing as well. It also occurred to me that as much as I long for Him, He also longs for me, as He does for all of us. What a great privilege to be able to sit in His Company all day Saturday.
As I have shared here before, my youngest was diagnosed with Marfan's Syndrome when she was just 2. Before her diagnosis, we had to see many specialists, and as you might imagine, the uncertainty was the worst part. Many times I prayed to God that He would not take her from me, but that if He did, it was His right, since she was only on loan to me to begin with. After she was diagnosed and I realized she had something she could live with, I didn't think so much about God taking her from me.
Last week, she had a little episode that reminded me that she's still on loan to me, and I wondered what I would do without her. My husband is a lukewarm Catholic. I certainly haven't given up on him, but it's not the same as those families where both spouses are equally committed to the faith. My son has the attention span of a gnat. His first question whenever he's invited to church outside of Sunday Mass is "How long will it be?" The oldest is in her own world, which sometimes includes God but most of the time does not. Rebecca is the only one with whom I can share the faith. From an early age, she loved going to church. When my mother would mind her a few days a week, her request was always the same. "Grandmom, take me to church." She loves the Easter Vigil and Forty Hours Devotion as much as I do. She loves the Traditional Latin Mass and never hesitates to come to the novena or Stations of the Cross with me. What would I do without that? What would I do without her?
I'm hoping never to find out. The life expectancy for someone with Marfan's is longer than it used to be and hopefully, because she was diagnosed so young, she will live a very long time. I do love God that much that if He asked her of me, I wouldn't hesitate to present her to Him. But I pray that He will ask for her in a different way, one in which she would remain here on earth to serve Him. May His Will be done!
At work, my Brown Scapular has captured a lot of attention. Most of my staff is Catholic, as evidenced by the number who got ashes in the chapel last week and who talk to me about going to Mass, etc. One particularly difficult personality has taken an unexpected liking to me, and I found it it's because she's a devout Catholic and heard I go to daily Mass before work. She confided in someone else that she would like to have a Scapular like mine. Then several other people chimed in that they, too, would love to have one. So that's what I bought in the Avila Bookstore. The one pictured here is identical to the one I wear. The staff at my old job always asked me to cook for them or bring them treats from the Italian Market. I think it's a pretty good sign that my new staff hasn't asked for anything except the Scapular. I was all too happy to oblige.