With all of our imperfections, we begin and end each day at the foot of the cross. It is here where our story begins and we pray it is where it will end. "Jesus said: Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light." ~Matthew 11:28-30~
Listen to God's voice at the foot of the crucifix." ~St. Gaspar del Bufaro~
I've been thinking a lot about this during a recent challenge around our house...Dear husband has been gone on a month-long business trip to teach tactical medicine in another country. We discussed the opportunity quite a bit before making a mutual decision that he should go. That being said, the challenges of him being gone were yet to be seen...
The first thing I did was call upon many prayer warriors to pray for his safety and our sanity at home. I've been told that I'm a strong person but I really don't feel like I am. One thing I know for certain is that I do have a strong God who sustains me. I knew that our family was going to need those prayers, especially for me to do my part alone with 4 kids at home.
The days and weeks passed by...some slow, some fast, some crazy, some sane. Needless to say there were many lessons learned and strength was gained a long the way, no doubt from the prayers that were prayed from generous and loving hearts. I am so grateful for all of them and he's finally coming home this weekend!
What surprised me the most was the differing reactions that I received. People I hardly know were checking in on us yet some of my closest friends and relatives never even asked how we were doing. I sat and listened to one particular "friend" ramble on about herself while never even casting a word or question about our survival. Seemingly insensitive and uncaring actions are puzzling thoughts about a "friend."
All of this reminded me of my widowhood when some people I thought were close friends seemed farthest away. On the other hand, the people who seem to care the most during this difficult situation were the least expected. It's like God plants them there to open our eyes to beautiful people all around us that we failed to pay attention to before. He makes up for our human failings and His hands reach out to us through these special people that reach out to us, taking our eyes off the disappointment.
When all is said and done, the fact is that we need each other. We need hands to hold when we are struggling. Big struggles, small struggles, it doesn't really matter. What counts is a caring gesture. I remember one particular homily when our pastor emphasized the need for Christ but also the human need for people with "skin" here on earth. God made us in His image and likeness to be His representatives on earth...The arms and legs of Jesus for one another. I was reminded of this need in my own need. We aren't meant to walk alone.
Receiving a kind text message asking how we were doing, how my husband was doing, was such a life-line this past month. Some sweet church friends brought pizza and dropped it off, without even asking; a friend that I only see once a year sent chocolate; another thoughtful friend dropped off stress relief soap and lotion...I never expected any of this but I can't tell you how each of these hands that reached out brought light to a dark moment or ease to a struggle. I am beyond humbled. Words cannot express enough gratitude.
The reason I share this is to bring light to the kindness, to the importance of hands to reach out. It reminds me how critical it is to be that same light for others. We can all make a difference, even in the small things...Sometimes we will never know when the small things are really big things so we just need to act! We should not hesitate or wait to be asked...Just reach out. Since we are all human, it's inevitable that people will disappoint us but right behind them are new smiles to discover and new friends to behold.
I saw this picture of Pope Francis on Facebook via Catholic Catalogue and it brings home this loving sentiment. The way he reached out to that Swiss Guard was so endearing...Look at that smile! Isn't that how we all feel when someone touches our hearts? I pray that I will not be that "friend" who is too self-absorbed or too busy to reach out...After all, the Pope's not too busy to grab a hand!
Moving forward from here, I want to reach out a little more. I hope you will join me...