Sunday, June 12, 2011

Feeling the love

Who would believe such a sweet looking creature could be so rotten! :)

My husband is gone for the weekend, off mountain biking up in Whistler - as in, riding a ski lift up the mountain, and riding down on a bike. I'm just hoping he comes back in one piece. He texted me today to tell me he did a header over the handlebars and probably has bruised ribs. Lovely, yes? I asked him if he was hurt, or actually injured and needing medical attention. He assures me he's just bruised and sore and he'll get in one more mellow ride (if there is such a thing there) tomorrow before coming home.

In any case, this was not the best weekend for him to be gone. There was just a lot going on, culminating in a big Pentecost celebration at our church today. Our parish has made this our official parish feast day, so they pulled out all the stops. We had one, large Sunday mass (rather than the usual two), followed by a huge potluck, live music and other entertainment, games for the kids and so on. It was a lot of fun - well, the celebration after mass was fun. Getting through a long mass by myself with my three kids today proved to be... challenging.

My boys chose seats in the front row, which can either be great, or disasterous. Today was the latter. On an ordinary Sunday, maybe one of my kids will be difficult in church and the other two fairly reasonable. Or possibly, if it's a bad day, two of them will act up and the other (usually David, my oldest), will be fine. Today, of all days, with a huge turnout (aka witnesses) and no husband (aka the key to my sanity), all three of my kids were monsters. Terrible, no-good, very bad monsters.

David (my 6 year old) whined and squirmed alternating with standing up and throwing his stuffed tiger around during the songs. Grayson (my 4 year old) complained, whined, squirmed, chased his sister around, complained some more and tried to wander off several times. Ella (21 months) cried, screamed, ran off more than once, kicked her brothers, climbed on everything and generally made life difficult for me and pretty much every one else around me. She made so much noise, when we were outside after mass I was chatting with a woman who laughed at my misfortune (probably thinking she was laughing *with* me, despite my own lack of laughter) and said, "The best part about her fit was that it wasn't one of mine!" Ha. ha.

But you know what, it wasn't all bad. A woman I don't even know quietly came over a couple times during mass, when Miss-Fussypants was at her worst, and offered to sit with my boys while I took her to the back of the church to calm her down. And a good friend of mine, who is older with grown kids of her own, held my daughter through part of mass and let Grayson sit by her towards the end. Another friend of mine was sitting a few rows behind, and happily distracted Ella when she wandered back toward her, keeping her from running off too far. Nearly everyone around me met my eyes with a genuine smile (and sometimes a little pity). But mostly I just felt loved. These people sitting around me weren't horrified at my daughters screaming outburst, or the clatter of crayons and clipboard as my son's coloring dropped to the floor. They weren't upset when I left my seat to calm one child, or when another child slipped back to get a drink (because you know, he was going to die of thirst on the spot). They simply smiled warmly and understood, many reaching out to help.

This is one of the things that brought us to this church. We had questions about Catholic doctrine and practices; about the rituals and sacraments and church teaching, and we explored those questions. But they had us with their welcome and love before we even dove into the nitty gritty of what it is to be Catholic. They had us with their love. And today was a great reminder of that.

I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
~John 13:34, 35

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