Listen to God's voice at the foot of the crucifix." ~St. Gaspar del Bufaro~

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Mercy Moments

I was in a little fender-bender scratcher today.  We're all ok! Though my neck and back are a little stiff, it's mostly my pride that's pretty bruised.  Accidents are humbling, aren't they?
They're especially humbling when it's your fault.
Picture the scene...Kids have been bickering non-stop in the backseat and there is road work ahead...I stop behind the car in front of me.  Suddenly it's time to go when the bickering gets to an all-time high.  As I step on the gas pedal to accelerate forward, I turn my head just for a second to politely ask scream "STOOOOOP!" At that very second, I slammed into the car in front of me, without a single tap to the breaks.  I felt my body ricochet back and forth and I was momentarily stunned.  Slowly, the white car in front of me moves forward through the road work, trying to find a safe place to pull over.  I see several pairs of wide eyes in my rear view mirror...Kids are suddenly quiet, go figure!  I call out to the back "Is everyone ok?"  One little chatterbox pipes up like a quiet little church mouse, making the obvious statement: "Mommy, we just hit somebody!"  Um, yeah.
Could have been a doozy.
By the grace of God, we were all just fine, hoping for the same in the car we just hit...
The white car makes a left turn and pulls over to the side.  I follow with my tail between my legs, bracing myself for a huge debt to pay if there was a person injured or damage to their vehicle.  I was sure there was going to be damage to their bumper at the very least.
I immediately pulled over and hopped out, eager to surrender my guilt, apologize, assist, and hand over my life insurance card. As if I were watching in slow-motion, a little silver-haired old man emerged from the white car.  He had a hunched back and could barely lift his head.  I'm not sure what the condition is called that causes the hunched back but this was his appearance. Oh my goodness, I felt simply awful!  He didn't even look up at me until I spoke..."I am so sorry, sir!  Are you o.k.?"  He gently tilted his head and flashed the sweetest smile. "I'm just fine and you?"  My heart just about melted in relief!  I started to babble about the kids but he didn't seem to really care.  He bent over (even more than he already was) to assess the damage which definitely consisted of a few scratches to his rubber bumber and a cracked hitch cover.  With surprise in his voice he exclaims: "Doesn't look like much damage considering how hard you hit...Don't worry about it. Oh, and thank you for stopping."  What do you mean don't worry about it?  I coudn't believe my ears...And he was thanking me for stopping?  I continued to insist that he at least take my name and number, just in case.  He wouldn't have it.  Still in shock, I nervously apologized again. He just looked up at me with his wise blue eyes and flashed that sweet smile again as he silently hobbled back to the driver's side of his vehicle.
I stood there, stunned, not knowing what to say...
"God bless you," I shouted after him.  He didn't turn his head but held up his hand in acknowledgement.
As I got back in the car, I felt a flood of mercy pour over me, cleansing me like a river of forgiveness. The grace of this moment struck me, far outweighing the trauma of the initial hit.  Though I felt that I deserved to be punished, he treated me with kindness.  What? He even thanked me for goodness sakes! Being the recipient of mercy is a powerful gift.  I think we often don't realize its value until it has been lavished upon us.  It certainly opened my heart to pay the mercy forward to the wide eyes in the backseat:)

 The funny thing is that God gives us this gift every day.  It's there, one of the most powerful gifts we can receive in our lifetime.  He's there to love us and forgive us if we surrender and humble ourselves long enough to accept it.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the greatest mercy moments on earth.  Silently and patiently, freedom waits for us there, real freedom, life-changing freedom,...If only we pull over, get out, and surrender our mistakes. 
 They are all around us, these mercy moments.  How exciting is that? There are mercy moments to give and mercy moments to receive.  As Christians, we are called to give and receive mercy.  How can we love one another without mercy? Doesn't it seem nearly impossible? The real question is whether we will pull over, get out and surrender...Or will we keep on going?   I know I need to pull over a lot more often.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Nothing But A Little Child

A lot's been going on around here...changes and challenges galore and blessed by all of them, I might add.  I scarcely know where to begin so I'll start with the most simple and obvious conclusion...I am nothing but a little child.  
It's true.
Despite anything that goes on,
how busy or complicated life is, my vocation, my lot in life, my level of education, my state of holiness, I am still just a child.  
All of us are children of God, made in His image and likeness of course.  But remaining in a child-like state is scarcely possible as we grow into adulthood.  
We move out and seek to learn for ourselves...
He has promised that when we seek, we will find.
The funny thing is that what we find is not always what we expect!
Every trial will bring us closer to Him until we have no other place to run but into His arms.
We cannot do this life on our own.
Our Father is always right.
I am still the child.

Time and time again I am like Peter in the boat when Jesus asks them to lower their nets into the lake. (Luke 5:1-11) "Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing.  {But ok, ok, I'll do as you ask and lower the net...}" The Lord follows by providing abundant fish and Peter is remorseful for not trusting Him.

Like Simon Peter, I am constantly being reminded that God has a plan and His plan is never my own.  I often do as he asks but I am regularly reluctant. I am scared and I fail miserably in the "trust" department.

And yet He is still there, He never leaves us, loving us unconditionally as in this same Gospel telling Peter..."Do not be afraid."  One thing I have read about Peter is that he is the saint in the Gospels who is the closest to our humanity.  Even in his weak denials of Christ, he never permits himself to separate his heart from Him.  This is helpful to me and to all of us...We can DO this!

When I watch my children, they are always learning with eyes of wonder.   This is where God leads all of us if only we stop and look around.
Instead, I grow weary as I look at my failings. I grieve over the state of the world.  I worry about those who haven't yet "got God" and those who have left him.  Even worse, I am saddened by the Pharisees of our time.  {This is one of my greatest fears...I don't ever want to be one of them.}  Muckity, muck, muck, muck! Through all the muck, I am always reminded to just let God be God and me be me.
I am nothing but a little child in the scheme of things.  I can do my best when I wipe off my dirty lenses and see the world through the clean lens of a child, with the goodness that only He provides....
Through the ugly muck and sinful struggles, there are sweet smiles to be given, good deeds to be done, moments to cherish, beauty to be discovered, mercy to heal and hope to be shared.

With a Father who loves us and a Mother who always leads us to Him, what more could we ask for?

"If we persevere, we shall also reign with him." 2 Timothy 2:12
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